by Valdemar (Val) R Wake
Monday, February 09, 2009
Rated "G" by the Author.
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In November 1972 an English nurse, Judy Hill, died in a medical evacuation in Arctic Canada. As an Arctic reporter I covered the story that prompted an outpouring of poems, songs and books. The following poem was written during a writers' festival at Dartington Hall,Devon, not far from where Judy Hill originally came from. Judy Hill was based in the Arctic settlement of Spence Bay.
Distant Devon time remembered
Turning point of so much past
Distant daughters gone forever
Seeking truth in other parts.
I remember one such daughter
Laughing on the stairway to Spence
Dressed in white and beaming kindly
Dispensing aid and sound advice.
Strong of frame and sturdy legs
Conditioned by childhood's Fore Street,
Now her climb went even further
Up the steep steps to the nurisng station.
In the Great Hall, the man said
Nature chooses joy.
That's what the poets believed
The romantic poets that were.
I wonder what Judy would have made of that?
Icing fast and loosing height
Stuck on the blue route to despair
The pilot could not see his map checks.
Two patients at the back in her care.
A pregnant Inuit with her uterus tied
A boy with stomach pains
All flying south for help and comfort.
Nature chooses joy?
Red Devon remembered with quilted fields
Merry streams and shaded paths.
But on the blue route across the tundra in fading light
It was white on white in a hostile world.
No doubt nature chose joy in some parts
But on the tundra there was no such accommodation.
The Beechcraft plane was robbed of its will to fly
Forced to seek the hard ground.
The pilot ran out of landmarks and flew into the only hill.
He didn't see it.
Judy was killed on impact along with the Inuit woman.
The pilot packaged and ate Judy's flesh to survive.
The only other crash survivor
The young Inuit boy
Refused to eat the human flesh
Nature? Certainly not the poet's nature.
The man in the Great Hall spoke of other things
Of beauty,peace and balance.
He spoke of the poet's clarity of vision
And intimate understanding of detail.
And yet I knew as Judy knew
That nature had its own way of deciding life's chances.
Nature was not really interested in beauty and peace
But it was concerned with balance, the balance that decided what would and would not survive.
In death there was peace.
Copyright Val Wake 2009