First, a murky shape, the living suitcase or a human chest,
covered in barely recognizable leather, tucked into the wreck
and clinging to a book as to the bottom of the world.
Next, a pair of shoes, apart, like a man’s guesses,
breaking the ease of technology. His Zen science was
more about survival than government, the rigidity of steerage.
Pot, a hot‐water toilet, so ordinary,
porcelain bright, was once an omen.
Then, the radio tourists doubt the unsinkable drag of nature,
as ghosts shudder into tears of rust and drop amped to the earth.
And they brought questions.
What did their glowing through the remains of other people’s cases
and pilgrims come to pay or ground?
Do we lie on in her lonely berth or settle the night before us, so dark and churning?
Now, the luminescent fish bow inside the bright heartbeat
sprung from the same muddled acts of desperation. They talk about
the gallantry of film and change into dinner jackets. For some,
the enormous endless glass reminds them of Marconi. Their cries
echo across the midsummer’s ocean. At dusk, the ragtime lifeboats
come too late and watch the heaving visitors sink in spotlights.
At last, it took the whispers it has taken to get here. It took the owner of
these shoes, the case, the book, the porcelain oddness amped to earth
and the empty space on deck.
At last, it took the young with messages
glowing through the remains of technology
so peaceful, hopeful, and brave.
Jon Henson is a writer and teacher living in Rhode Island.