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Svalbard by Glen Wilson

A polar bear can wait for days for a seal to surface,

rehearsing a life for when the promise comes.

He must push away the gnawing doubts, trust

that the seal will poke his head through the gap.

Muscles always a moment away from springing,

jaws salivate, teeth become sharper through hunger.

For here there are months without any days,

the capricious sun divides itself between love and neglect.

When the night does not leave for months a Reindeer’s teeth

can wear out, searching for sparse roots in the frost.

It is luck whether the first-born or the runt digs in the right spot

just before the ground settles into its hoary sleep.

When one loses a life, one profits, the arctic fox twists through

the chill to catch prey, those too tardy to prepare, chances victims.

Further north is where the whales were slaughtered, huge bones,

spines, mandibles pristine now the rotted flesh has drawn back.

Even the exposed whaler’s graves leave hunter and hunted

together in tableau, ruddy and stark on the white.


Glen Wilson is a multi-award winning Poet from Portadown. He won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing in 2017, the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award in 2018 and The Trim Poetry competition in 2019. His poetry collection An Experience on the Tongue is out now with Doire Press.


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