Withstanding Life’s Wreckage

Life’s storm blows in from elsewhere.

She’s wrung out,
Washed up
By a swollen sea.

Breakers bear down,
Rolling in interminable hosts,
Torrents of foamy ghosts,
The only sounds of wind
And her wails:
Her mast is broken,
Jerking in a tangle of rigging and sails.

With Morpheus’ help, she dives under
And drifts into slumber,
Sails straight back
Into the raging tempest
Of another nightmare,
Clinging to the deck
Amid broken shards of sleep
And dawn’s shipwreck of sheets.

Stirred by keening gulls,
Light playing through her window
Encrusted with barnacle sparkles
Of salt and sun,
She surfaces,
Lifts languid limpet lids,
Remembers she has to walk the dog
And make breakfast for the kids.

© Kim M. Russell, 2016


The Shipwreck on Northern Sea Ivan Aivazovsky (1865)

My response to imaginary garden with real toads A Skyflower Friday – Shipwreck

Today Kerry is standing in for Fireblossom and bringing us today’s challenge, which is to write about what it means to be shipwrecked in our times, either literally or figuratively. We may choose our own point of view: a witness, a survivor, or one who will go down with the ship.  Kerry has provided inspiration with a section of a poem by Emily Dickinson:

Part One: Life

GLEE! the great storm is over!
Four have recovered the land;
Forty gone down together
Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!
Toll, for the bonnie souls,—
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,
Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck
When winter shakes the door,
Till the children ask, “But the forty?
Did they come back no more?”

Then a silence suffuses the story,
And a softness the teller’s eye;
And the children no further question,
And only the waves reply.

23 thoughts on “Withstanding Life’s Wreckage

  1. The images of shipwreck are either deeply etched in our cultural memory or mythically reflect a state of soul, because the story here is a perfect echo of all of what’s terrifying about death by water. Nightmares can’t get any closer to dying and yet we wake from them, becalmed somehow. Great response to the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kerry. I think it comes from past experience that I have pushed down deep into my subconscious and that rises every now and again.Women, and mothers in particular, spend most of their lives thinking of others while struggling with their personal shipwrecks.


    1. Thank you, Victoria. I think it was a very old shipwreck from my past that inspired it. You just have to get up, dust yourself of and get on with it when you have responsibilities, no matter how difficult or painful it might be. At the time you don’t realise how strong you are – it’s only that 20-20 vision of hindsight that shows you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, Kim — how I can relate, moving through the waves even as I feel the broken pieces mending — to tend to my children and keep life afloat. Very apt metaphor, both fantastical, chilling as a nightmare and real as daily life. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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