In the Mess Hall


The white board has not yet been erased for breakfast.

It reads: Rice, Corn Soup, Roast Pork, Seafood Pasta, Mix Veggie, Green Beans.

People trickle in for coffee. Those who are not snobs drink from the Bunn-o-matic.

I hear it is a Starbucks roast.

Melville would like that; though I’m not sure he didn’t prefer tea.

I brew the Bunn-O-Matic strong and savor the brisk acidic results with a little shot of boxed milk.

“Remember to wash hands prior to coming to the line.”

One sign says.

And another, on the door from the mess to the accommodation tower — the main stair well leading to the bridge:

“Lifeboat Muster Station Embarkation Station” In Daylite ™ lettering.

The surface of the mess hall tables, long slabs of melonine with aluminum banding, Robin’s egg blue.

In the center of each, two condiment bins: stainless steel.

Bolted to the deck around the tables: classic Walgreens café swivel chairs. They match the tables and stand erect upon stainless steel- silver-like mounts.

There is a freezer stocked endlessly with Magnum ice cream bars. A fridge with milk and cheese.

Fruit has not yet run out; though some have cut into an orange and called it less than perfect. I believe the exact phrase was:

“This is a marginal orange.”

Some have thrown out the brown-flecked flesh of an apple.

Which, unlike the orange, did not cause a major linguistical row.

Outside, the wind is fresh and the air relatively balmy after so much ice- berg cold.

Tomorrow we will pet the feral dogs of Punta Arenas and eat out of restaurants and run along the beach with our gums exposed.

Tomorrow we will grin like the wild horses and bray at the stars sparkling in that other, less watery sea.

Shannon Zellerhoff 6/2017