Patalis; or, Antipodus Incognita by Harris Coverley

Patalis; or, Antipodus Incognita
Harris Coverley

The Ancients knew well the Antipodes
              Aristotle and Ptolemy and the rest
That giant continent
             With coasts like shards
                         Yet bare and smooth on its surface
                         Halfway between rock and ice
Not a human in sight
             But a few million penguins
             And a few thousand seals
                         To dance in the temperate air
                         In quietly joyous harmony

The perfect balance with the Known Northern Realms

That is until the Sons of Adam began to expand
             And explore upon greater and greater ships
                         With gold and spices and converts in mind

The Antipodes
             Such a frightfully shy landmass
In pained embarrassment began to shrink
             Its vast shards crumbling into the evermore encroached upon ocean

Its penguins and seals drew in
             Toughening up against the growing cold
Until—not a fifth of its true size—it was a frozen wasteland
             Its avian and mammalian citizenry huddled hip to hip

Bellingshausen and Lazarev in that winter of early 1820
             Did at last spot what remained—
                         “There is no Terra Australis!
                                     Only this worthless and jagged shelf of ice!”

To this day its plains seem rough and dead
             And yet…
                         They await the time to smoothen out and warm again


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