I am a retired academic librarian who began writing poetry after I returned to Wisconsin, the place where I was born and raised. In part it's the level of support provided by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and places like the Mill that spark my creative juices. I suspect also that my ancestors are nudging me to speak out, now that I've returned home. I've been recently published in Writers Resist, Ariel Chart, and Verse-Virtual.
Praying for Rescue, I Think of You
Note: 500 miles west of Brest, France, and after their destroyer escort left them, the troop transport ship U.S.S. President Lincoln was torpedoed on May 31, 1918 by a German submarine at about 9:00 am. It sank in 20 minutes. 26 men lost their lives, 689 were rescued early the next morning. My grandfather was one of the survivors.
Agnes, I have no pencil or paper.
And there is no moon, only constellations
that remind me of my lowly place
in this vast universe. I am but one
bead on a string of shivering survivors
squeezed into twelve lifeboats, fifty
men in each, our crafts tied together,
the rafts behind packed with more men.
I cannot bear to think of those
who float in meager life rafts,
their legs submerged in frigid brine.
May God forgive me my comfort.
May God grant the sea a gentle nature
tonight. I watched our ship list to starboard.
It sank like a dying beast, moaning in pain,
with violent cracks and tortuous noise.
I do not know how many, or who our dead
might be, but some are surely lost, sucked
into the whirlpool of the ship’s final explosion.
Such is war. Where men seek to destroy
to the utmost damage. Forgive me
my thoughts. I pray for dry feet, dry clothes,
for strong, hot coffee, the chance to stretch
my legs. The sea smacks our side. God
is like the ocean, beyond my understanding.
Yet He listens to my heart. May our rescuers
make haste. May God keep with us as we drift,
pushed by uncaring currents. The night devours
our signal flares. Our feeble lights glow dimly,
but with steady beam. Agnes, stay.
© 2018 Peggy Turnbull
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