These Old Bones
A few days before my birth my father returned from an Arctic expedition. He’d been away for several months on Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between continental Norway and the North Pole – exploring the glaciers, fjords and mountains east of Ny-Alesund, earth’s most northerly civilian settlement at 78° 55’ N. It was night and raining hard when he got back. From Svalbard he’d flown down to Tromsø, then Luton, then caught several trains and finally a bus to Penclawdd, a village in south Wales. My mother, sitting by the window, saw him walking up the shining road, pack on his back. Once home he was amazed to see how pregnant she was, how round her belly.