I was born while still
the world had a few uncharted
pieces, parts less known
except as shadows, by a name,
by a history of polar expeditions
by its ice, its rocks
by being far away:
my father left;
me, my mother to explore
the arctic summer
to chart the glaciers,
gravel, sand, morain
to explore and afterward
when growing up
he sometimes would tell
stories from his expedition
summer, about the time
the airplane turned upside down
in a brutal summer gale
of the wildlife musk ox
and the wolf cub they had fed,
how he kept a picture of his son
and always afterward.
on his wrist, a piece of adventure
an expedition watch.

My mother though
said nothing much had happened
to a mother and her only son
left back home to explore
the world of being mother, wife alone,
the first year of my life

My father’s watch from the Axel Heiberg expedition.

Today Merril hosts at dVerse and she asks her to use an artifact of some kind and relate back to history. My choice is my father’s old expedition clock… At least it has a story but it doesn’t work.

December 7, 2021

37 responses to “Uncharted

  1. What a wonderful watch–full of stories! Thank you for sharing. But it sounds like your mother was so very lonely. It’s especially hard–that isolation with your first child.

  2. Very cool write, Bjorn. You’re lucky you’ve got a scrap. I’ve nothing fatherly-related but unpleasant memories. Thanks for sharing.

  3. One family, but oh how different each of the members of it perceived it. I just googled Axel Heiberg. Your dad must have been a very adventurous individual to partake of that place. Did he ever take you on adventures like that when you were older?

  4. You capture so vividly the early sense you had as a boy of your adventurous father while it was left to you and your mother to be on your own, the absence and the presence of the man who wore the watch.

  5. That was absolutely fascinating, an adventure of a poem and wonderful memento…

  6. Incredible tale, and it gets extra kudos for being true. Odd your father never went back out on other polar adventures after that; or maybe he did, and that’s another story.

  7. Oh, the contrast between the story-telling adventurer and the one left at home. To invoke your first year as a final line in to this dual-natured piece was really skillful, Bjorn. Just marvelous stuff.

  8. Thanks for sharing this personal story. The watch is an amazing piece to have. It’s sad that you mother had to go it alone during that first year.

  9. Many young men grow up with fathers in absentia. Yours has an interesting story, Bjorn, written quite differently from two vary divergent points of view, no doubt. Your father would write it as exciting and adventurous, your mother as endless dreary waiting. Thanks for sharing.

  10. My father was a scholar who traveled on research trips; he was gone for nearly six years of my life before I was 14. It’s lovely that you have an artifact of your father’s time away.

  11. A fascinating story well told. So much of our own personal history is bound up in objects like this, that we relive merely by looking at them. I wonder which was the more difficult adventure, his or your mother’s. Especially liked the opening lines.

  12. I can to some extent understand how your mother felt then. My husband is a sailor and I had to often stay on for months with my young kids without him.
    Very masterful, personal write.

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