(At Bamsebu, Svalbard)

We blot out
the detritus

of our dreams
to surface

in the mudroom
booted up to belt

on amber lifejackets
and into Zodiacs

(we clamber ant
like), hammy

rib-craft belching
as they land.

The shacked bones
of the slain belugas

lie dissembled,
rimy, unmade

jigsaw time
and tide will marl.

A querulousness
fills the space,

the shorn flesh
of their dying.

White horde
of antiquity

they gape at us
from cavities

where eyes are
memories, enormous,

infinite. Some click
and mew of ghosts

in horizontal, only
there’s no dawning,

just this papery set.
We’re all made up

as a stream of purple
sandpipers affects

a dance of life
and we are finished.

John White is a native of Northern Ireland living in Oxfordshire. His poems have appeared in magazines including Ambit, The Moth, The North, Poetry Wales, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry News, The Reader, and Stand. He has been published in the anthologies Oxford Poets 2007 (Carcanet) and Initiate (Kellogg College), and he passed the Oxford Masters in Creative Writing with distinction. A wildlife lover with an active interest in protecting Oxfordshire’s badgers, he works in a local special school.