Our island appears like a jewel and grows
green until we circle to land,
then I see the red sore gouged at its centre
and my bile rises as the plane drops.
On the ground I am lost in the chaos
of unloading in a sudden dark that hides everything
beyond our beams. I’m looking for the bread,
fresh bread brought to last this first week
but by the time I’ve found it the loaves are gnawed to stale crusts
and I’m in despair with a hungry crew to feed.
I must push my fear and sorrow
out into the dark and be grateful when our neighbours,
the whalers, come over the hill with roast meat.
I stumble asleep among crates of food
and dream of home but when I wake up I’m still here
and a relentless dawn calls me to breakfast for thirty.
For days of sorting supplies and learning a new kitchen,
fuelling men between their shifts,
all I ever see is the grassy slopes sheltering our camp,
a wink of water behind us and a sky full of strange stars.
Finally there is time for a walk, up the hill:
I see again the bleeding gash I am feeding,
and vomit into the grass.