The cold and ice kill humans—so we learn
from the Heroic Age of polar exploration.
When the wind blows frigid seventy below
and we struggle from tent to hut in blizzarding dry snow,
when we cannot work, only live,
I believe this.
On a blue-sky day, the Ross Sea is white ‘downstairs’
from high on the steaming crater rim of Erebus.
We seek the secrets beneath the volcano;
clues contained in the gas it emits.
But there, hidden, is something more.
Our air is changing; I see it in the spectra
from the plume of a lava lake in remote Antarctica.
Up, the carbon dioxide, each year—and, each year,
when I see the frozen expanse fragment earlier
into dark blue liquid sea, I remember
it is humans who kill the cold and ice—
so we learn now from our science.
Tehnuka is a Tamil tauiwi writer and volcanologist from Aotearoa New Zealand. She likes to find herself up volcanoes, down caves, and in unexpected places. Others, however, can find her as @tehnuka on Twitter, and some of her recent work in Apparition Lit, Mermaids Monthly, and Grist’s Imagine 2200 climate fiction collection.