Gone, all of them gone. He alone is left,
the last of the sealing expedition.
Under the dim light of the crescent moon,
he decides to settle there, on the ice.
Hope is a phantom limb, amputated,
lost, nonexistent, only felt as if
it were real, when he closes his eyes.
Far off, the search party retreats back to
the ship, faces cast in the kerosene
lamplight. Night pulls its starry coverlet
across the frozen landscape’s face.
Falling into sleep, he exhales his dreams.
They gather, swirl above him, drift and fade,
a hesitant secret, an epitaph.