Mike Subritzky

MIDNIGHT MASS – WILLY FIELD ANTARCTICA 1973

I remember the snow
crunching underfoot
as I made my way
staggering
leaning
sliding
up from the VXE6 squadron crew room,
through the glacial ice and up
into the midnight sun.

Blinking and disoriented
soft snowflakes whispered
onto the shoulders of my combat jacket
and ice froze into my beard as I stumbled
towards the building.

I had no idea
what the building was,
but it must have been new as it sat above the glacial ice.

I remember the skuas wheeling and diving
and me, three parts pissed
and looking for a friendly RC Chaplain.

I reached the building and it was empty
devoid of anything but a cross and several wooden pews.
I picked the front pew,
pulled on my bear claws for extra warmth…
then crashed.

The priest woke me about 2355;
he was freshly shaven and kind.
I blinked back the cracklin’ rose
and wild turkey, said my confession and
sat holding my hangover with as much dignity
as a soldier can muster.

I don’t remember much about the service,
I think we spoke Latin and I prayed for my children
and a wife, so very far away. I took communion.
I remember blinking into the midnight sun
when the mass ended
and we crunched back into the ice and snow and skua gulls.

Submitted for the December 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Joy of the Holy Days