Storming the 7th Continent

I had to jump farther than I would have expected.

I had to jump farther than I had since I was in my teens.

I watched others ahead of me, on their hands and knees,

crawling over icy rock, red jacketed, all of us alike, easy to spot

if we fell in the freezing water, many younger than newly retired I,

some older, some much older, all slipping, falling, crying out,

several choosing to return to the Zodiac rather than go ashore,

failing painfully at this treacherous landing, avoiding worse injury.

At least we weren’t under fire on the beaches of Normandy.

I was last, looked nervously at those who’d come back,

their heads shaking at having been unable to make it farther.

I made the longest jump to the first rock, the water sloshing around me,

caught my balance, breathless and praying, went down on all fours,

crawl-hopped heart-stopped and encouragement-deaf to the stony shore,

an Antarctic sea slug oozing along in interminable time.

In the end, I stumbled ashore, panting, admiring the penguins

for their easy passage to and from the water,

and of course, I was convinced of my invincibility.

That I had made it ashore against all obstacles at my age

was proof I would never die, I thought, smiling.

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