I’d read of the yacht that was lost at sea,
Among the Antarctic ice,
I never thought it would matter to me
Though its ending wasn’t so nice,
There were three on board, and two had died,
But one must have got away,
For I found the log of its final days
In a second-hand shop in the Bay.
It was badly damaged with damp and rot,
And some of the ink had run,
Some pages stuck so I couldn’t read
The writing on every one.
But the hairs rose up on the back of my neck
To read what there was to see,
For a tale of human failings were what
Became so apparent to me.
They’d gone in search of the southern whales,
John Stanley, Evan and Eve,
Though why they went at that time of year
I find it hard to conceive,
For the winter’s cruel in those Southern climes
And the sails ice up with the spray,
‘It’s hell when there’s no-one to keep you warm,’
John Stanley wrote on the day.
For Evan and Eve kept each other warm,
While John made do with a quilt,
He wrote that Eve kept looking his way,
Could that be a sign of his guilt?
He waited till Evan had gone topside
Then made his advance to Eve,
But she just pushed him away, and then,
He wrote, ‘I caught at her sleeve.’
‘She fell, and crashed to the galley floor,
And split her head on the sink,
The wound on her scalp was red and raw,
I needed a moment to think.
I lifted her into an easy chair
And wiped the blood from her brow,
Then Evan came tumbling down the stair,
‘What have you done to her now?’
The following entry was smeared with blood,
I couldn’t read what it said,
I only know when he wrote again
That Evan must have been dead.
‘I lifted him over the starboard rail
And slipped him into the sea,
His body had left a bloodied trail
But that had left Eve and me.’
‘She came around on the second day,
But only could sit and stare,
So I lifted her into the lower bunk,
I needed her warmth in there.
A look of horror had crossed her face
When I crawled under the quilt,
And held her tight on that second night,
I can’t explain how it felt.’
The next few pages were in a lump
I couldn’t tear them apart,
But then a page was written in rage,
‘I’d given the girl my heart.
But though she still couldn’t speak to me
She lay on the bunk and spat,
I told her that Evan had gone, so she
Had better get over that.’
The ink had run on the following page
In water that looked like tears,
So he must have felt her rejection while
She lay, gave way to her fears.
The entry he wrote on the seventh day,
‘I held her close, and she sighed,
I thought my love had begun to move her,
When I awoke, she’d died.’
‘I held her close on the seventh night
But she had become so cold,
I tried to give her my body heat
As the yacht in the ocean rolled,
I couldn’t slip her over the side
To do what I’d done before,
She needed a christian burial so
I’d take her back to the shore.’
The next few pages were merely rant
Bemoaning the love he’d lost,
But never a mention of Evan there,
Who’d paid the ultimate cost.
The sun came out on the fifteenth day
And the cabin became so warm,
Where Eve had lain in her rotting flesh
‘The worms came out in a swarm.’
‘I couldn’t believe the smell down there,
Her body was falling apart,
I should have buried her when I could,
I just didn’t have the heart.’
The yacht was locked in Antarctic ice
When the ice breaker came through,
And took both John and the Ice Log off,
So now I can read it to you.
But Eve lies still on the ice bound yacht
A skeleton now, but free,
Her soul in search of Evan, her love,
They’ll meet down deep in the sea.
While John still roams abroad on the earth
And carries his personal hell,
To mourn the love that he found and lost
Among the Antarctic swell.
David Lewis Paget