Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Arctic’: a poem by Christian Ward


The first time you tasted chemotherapy,
there were no side effects apart from an Arctic
chill turning your lips blue like the wiry
hospital blanket you wrapped yourself in.

You shivered the troughs and peaks
of the Cordillera range, mirroring
the echocardiogram to come. No snow
fell in your cubicle, but it was cold

enough to trace the outline of a snowman
with your breath. Colouring it in,
impossible. You could’ve sworn there
were animals with you: a chandelier-antlered

caribou. The travelling village of a herd
of musk ox. Arctic wolves. A lone polar bear,
back curved like an igloo. Dall sheep.
A snowshoe hare. The ghost of an Arctic fox
at the foot of your bed, silent like a spirit.