The Way to Keep Going in Antarctica

By Bernadette Mayer b. 1945 Bernadette Mayer
Be strong Bernadette
Nobody will ever know
I came here for a reason
Perhaps there is a life here
Of not being afraid of your own heart beating
Do not be afraid of your own heart beating
Look at very small things with your eyes
& stay warm
Nothing outside can cure you but everything's outside
There is great shame for the world in knowing
You may have gone this far
Perhaps this is why you love the presence of other people so much
Perhaps this is why you wait so impatiently
You have nothing more to teach
Until there is no more panic at the knowledge of your own real existence
& then only special childish laughter to be shown
& no more lies no more
Not to find you no
More coming back & more returning
Southern journey
Small things & not my own debris
Something to fight against
& we are all very fluent about ourselves
Our own ideas of food, a Wild sauce
There's not much point in its being over: but we do not speak them:
I had written: "the man who sewed his soles back on his feet"
And then I panicked most at the sound of what the wind could do
               to me
       if I crawled back to the house, two feet give no position, if
       the branches cracked over my head & their threatening me, if I
       covered my face with beer & sweated till you returned
If I suffered what else could I do

"The Way to Keep Going in Antarctica" by Bernadette Mayer, from A Bernadette Mayer Reader. Copyright © 1968 by Bernadette Mayer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1992)

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Poet Bernadette Mayer b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, School & Learning, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Coming of Age

Poetic Terms Persona