Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “Why They Went,”
by Elizabeth Bradfield

Why They Went

 

that men might learn what the world is like at the spot where the sun does not decline in the heavens.
—Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Frost bitten. Snow blind. Hungry. Craving
fresh pie and hot toddies, a whole roasted
unflippered thing to carve. Craving a bed
that had, an hour before entering,
been warmed with a stone from the hearth.

Always back to Eden—to the time when we knew
with certainty that something watched and loved us.
That the very air was miraculous and ours.
That all we had to do was show up.

The sun rolled along the horizon. The light never left them.
The air from their warm mouths became diamonds.
And they longed for everything they did not have.
And they came home and longed again.

 

“Why They Went” is from Approaching Ice by Elizabeth Bradfield. Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Persea Books, Inc. (New York). All rights reserved. First published in Rhino, 2004.

Approaching Ice is available for order here and here.

You can listen to the author reading her poem here.

Read reviews about Bradfield’s work here, here, and here.

 

Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of the poetry collections Once Removed, Approaching Ice, Interpretive Work, and the forthcoming Toward Antarctica. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, West Branch, Orion, and many anthologies. She has been awarded a Stegner Fellowship, the Audre Lorde Prize, and was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press, she lives on Cape Cod, works as a naturalist locally as well as on expedition ships in the high latitudes, and teaches creative writing at Brandeis University. www.ebradfield.com

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