Place: Nod Ghosh


Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere

I see faces in the ice. There’s a word for it: pareidolia. Sometimes I see an arm caressing the body of the glacier, its reach expansive. But despite her appeal, this frozen mistress courts death and destruction.

Although it’s unwise, since Jenny died, I walk these pathways on my own. I check the routes, looking for fresh crevasses and stressed seracs that might topple on us. My clients must be safe when they tackle the glacier’s backbone with their sticks and crampons.

The clouds scud overhead like closing curtains. We may have to postpone the 10.15 ice walk if the weather closes in.

I stop for a cigarette. Sitting on a jutting mound, I marvel at the range of blues and greys around me. Looking down, I see two eyes under the glassy plaque at my feet.

I often see faces in the ice.

But this is different. This is no pareidolia. Nor is it a missing tramper shrouded in polyprop and fleece. Her hair is loose, encased in resin-like ice. Her lips are blue. She looks like Jenny.

When I push my tears away, she’s sitting next to me. The woman tells me her name is Hine Huketere. I know this before she speaks. I have always known it. I follow her, not because she calls me by my name, not because she takes my hand, but because I must.

Perhaps it’s not possible to know something that constantly shifts. I thought I recognised every ice cave, every feature of this glacier. But Hine takes me somewhere I have never been. She removes my clothing. The inevitability of death slows my heartbeat. Standing naked in front of her, I accept my fate.

“You are like very him,” she says, stroking my face. Embracing the contradiction of the warmth in my belly and her dry ice breath, I sink into her cold warmth. We don’t make love. This is about baring our spirits. This is an attempt to save each other. This is so much more than sex.

Her tears are unstoppable. She cries for the loss of her lover.

Some call this place Franz Josef Glacier. But the ice comes from her tears, kā roimata; her tears made solid. This is her last farewell, along with so many like her.

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Nod Ghosh’s novella-in flash ‘The Crazed Wind’ (Truth Serum Press) was released in July 2018. Short stories and poems have appeared in many publications.Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/

Steven John – Special Features & Senior Fiction Editor