the hardest part about going to antarctica is coming back 

after two years to a six-year-old daughter who screams 

when you open the door to your home because she thinks 

you are a monster. you made a pact with the ship doctor that 

you’d throw away your razor and so your hair is longer than your child 

is tall and you are trying to convince her that it’s you, papa rob 

but it’s clear you’ve been spending too much time in the presence of 

danger. you could be a leopard seal for all she knows and she’s right to 

scream at strangers. this is downtown joburg after all. it doesn’t help 

that you are still wearing full thermals. while you were 40 below they 

sort of frosted to your body, which might have been handy as the

base mechanic but tonight you just look sweaty and nervous as 

you reintroduce yourself to the girl you left behind. she is thawing 

as you tell her that you’ve prepared penguins for tonight’s dinner 

discussion, photos of the emperor and the mushroom ice –

she will eventually recognise you, after the haircut. but you will never 

quite forget the moments before the ice was broken.  

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