-“for god’s sake look after our people”
Captain Robert Scott’s last journal entry
It’ll come to me, I said, when I’m not trying to think about it.
You nod, take a drink of your beer.
Don’t think about it, you tell me.
But I can’t. It’s right there, on the tip of my tongue.
Marcus? I say
but we both know that isn’t right.
We had spent the day in the city,
the first day off of work in what seemed like forever.
At the subway station we saw the ad for the Robert Scott exhibition.
I have a thing for explorers.
Scott didn’t make it.
Amundsen did. But he also ate his dogs as he went along.
For whatever that is worth.
There is a hard sound in it, you tell me.
I look around the bar,
watching people sit side by side, not speaking
their frantic thumbs thumbing flat screens.
We should ask someone to look it up for us, I say.
No, you say defiantly.
We’ll remember. Think about the book.
I know what book you mean. Scott’s partner,
the name we can’t think of, was a character in it.
Jake? I offer but we both shake our heads
knowing that isn’t right.
Things I know:
He knew he was dying.
He crawled away into the blinding darkness of all that snow.
He though Scott was crazy
Maybe I’m wrong about the last one.
We try to talk about other things.
We finish our beers and head out into the night.
On the train,
you say, “Titan”
and I spring up, nearly scream it,
Titus. Titus. His name was Titus. Captain Titus Oates.
You tell me we don’t need “no stinkin’ internet.”
And I can’t stop smiling.
Titus. Captain Titus Oates who’s last words to his team
were “I’m just going outside and I may be awhile” and
then he vanished in the blinding snow
or the blinding sun, either,
on that frozen wasteland.
But here, Captain,
Oh, here on this train,
without everyone’s favorite little gadget
that keeps making us stupider,
I remembered your name.
I remembered that later after you died, Scott, curled up in his sleeping bag,
next to the last two men, and they found them this way
eight months later.
Some facts can not, should not, be forgotten.
They should not be little passing interests,
another disposable piece of information
in this already too disposable culture.
They should be remembered,
frozen in your head for good,
like those men in the ice,
waiting on death or
infamy whichever came first.
16 hours ago