A Practical Man

"the blizzards came screaming from hell -
we walked across the accursed land."

In 1911 from the Australian base
at Commonwealth Bay in the Antarctic
3 men went East on an expedition of
discovery. Ninnis , Xavier Mertz and
Douglas Mawson. Mertz free wheeling
on skis went first. Mawson second
in case of accident and Ninnis
with the food in the safest position
last. 315 miles from winter quarters
Ninnis was there one minute - gone
the next with the best dogs and food.
The only sound to mark his departure a
plaintive whine.
                The two men were left
with 1 1/2 weeks of human food which
they rationed along with the
remaining dogs. had they known then
what we know now about Eskimo folklore -
the toxic qualities of husky's livers -
would they have had a choice. Chosen
not to eat the dogs and Mertz a semi-vegetarian.
By slow poisoning his death. His hair
dropped off strewn along the way. His
skin peeled away nicely to the bone.
Mawson walked on alone. The soles of
his feet came off. He tied them back on
and kept on walking.
                 On arrival
in base no one recognised him. His
skull bare. His bones thinly
sculptured by the wind. His
voice the texture of ice sharp
blizzards tempered by hell. Three
men walked east across the accursed land.
One returned clutching his feet in
his hands. A practical man.