They are drilling down through pack ice
in the coldest place on earth,
and finding signs of life:

residues from beech trees, fossilised,
pulled up from half a mile below sea level
and out of other eras: the Cretaceous,

the Triassic, Deep Time, the very deepest,
the kind you cannot see except inside
the distance of a microscope. Or sleep.


Odd that he made eight, Evagrius,
favoured adherent of Basil the Great,
counsellor to Nectarius, Evagrius of Pontus,

the first to itemise the list for us
of original deadly sins, Evagrius
who vanished for a year when his affair

with the Prefect’s wife ended,
and who eventually settled in the Nitrian Desert
amongst a brotherhood of monks.


Scientists know something used to grow here
and that it might again since this is waterland
and water is unusual. Antarctica

is also the driest place on earth
and so the greatest risk is fire. Therefore
they store extinguishers by beds and doors,

loaded with powder like muskets for fire
is excitable, can catch and take like all diseases
including sadness, number 8.