Endurance. A poem by Michael Durack

Three weeks of social-distancing, self-isolation
and talking up our spirit of endurance;
Shackleton’s Endurance sailed for forty-five days
before coming a cropper in Antarctic ice.

Four weeks without Premiership and Pro-14;
Wild and Hussey, Hurley and the rest camped on the floes
for five months – they called it Camp Patience.

Seventeen days of drought, the pubs closed;
McIlroy and Wordie, James and nineteen others
sucked up eighteen weeks of darkness on Elephant Island
under two upturned lifeboats, feasting on seal and penguin.

Day Five of cocooning, climbing the four walls;
Crean, Worsley & Co wave-tossed for fifteen days
in a twenty-foot boat, eight-hundred miles to South Georgia.

Throw in a thirty-six hour hike across a glacier,
three men, a carpenter’s adze and fifty feet of rope;
it takes the gloss off our spring cleaning and feats of DIY.

Well, in Stromness whaling station there was no lockdown and
(to cut a long story short ) after some further mercy missions
in the South Atlantic twenty-eight wanderers trailed home virus-free.
Endurance lies at the bottom of The Weddell Sea.


Michael Durack lives in Tipperary, Ireland. His work features in journals such as The Blue Nib, Skylight 47 and Poetry Ireland Review. Publications include a memoir, Saved to Memory: Lost to View (2016) and a collection, Where It Began ( Revival, 2017.) A second collection, Flip Sides, is forthcoming from Revival Press.

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