Meridional overturning

by EJ Shu



Katabatic winds bear down with the ululations
of five hiemal armies, eight plagues, twenty-nine names:
Piteraq and the Bora, Böhmwind. Oroshi and the Barber,
Santa Ana, Williwaws. Polynya too is a name

we borrow from Russian for unfrozen tracts
of seawater flayed by those drainage winds
scouring, careening off a cold coast.
In the freezing season, the lacerated places breed

bright ice in matrices and lattices, glittering,
highballing. This year the brine rejection hurts
more than usual—the recipe for heavy shelf water,
dissolved salts unbearable, so dense the detailed fate is still unclear.

Poet’s note—this poem uses fragments of the following scientific article: Kusahara, K., Williams, G.D., Tamura, T., Massom, R. & Hasumi, H. 2017. Dense shelf water spreading from Antarctic coastal polynyas to the deep Southern Ocean: A regional circumpolar model study. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. 122. pp. 6238-6253. DOI:10.1002/2017JC012911

EJ SHU is an Australian-Canadian poet whose recent work appears or is forthcoming in Cordite Poetry Review, Poets Reading the News, Plum Tree Tavern, and Plumwood Mountain. She makes her home on the northwest coast of Tasmania.

Photo: “Ice” by Yamanaka Tamaki