Why They Went
that men might learn what the world is like at the spot where the sun does not decline in the heavens.
Frost bitten. Snow blind. Hungry. Craving
fresh pie and hot toddies, a whole roasted
unflippered thing to carve. Craving a bed
that had, an hour before entering,
been warmed with a stone from the hearth.
Always back to Eden—to the time when we knew
with certainty that something watched and loved us.
That the very air was miraculous and ours.
That all we had to do was show up.
The sun rolled along the horizon. The light never left them.
The air from their warm mouths became diamonds.
And they longed for everything they did not have.
And they came home and longed again.
Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of Approaching Ice (Persea, 2010), which was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interpretive Work (Arktoi, 2008), which won the 2009 Audre Lorde Prize and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Believer, Orion as well as many anthologies, and she is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow. Founder and editor of the grassroots-distributed and guerilla-art-inspired Broadsided Press (broadsidedpress.org), she works as a naturalist and lives on Cape Cod.