Poem: The Island

,

Wooden planks riddled the beach
protruding like tombstones.
 
A hastily made fire signal stood ready,
a sentinel on the hill,
stretching out into the blue expanse.
 
I watch a ship sail into view
so close I think I could whisper and be heard,
but I drop the torch in the sand
leaving my salvation unlit.
 
Alone, I sit on the beach
observing the jagged markers
signifying everyone I’ve lost.
 
I fully expect to die here.
Somehow I feel more lost and broken
because their deaths didn’t swallow me whole.
 
I rise and wade into the waters
of their memories, praying they will
steel me,
heal me,
pull me under.
Pull me under.
 
I never would have abandoned them.
Left them alone.
Deserted.
Stranded.
Empty.
 
I wade out farther, the
waves cresting above my shoulders,
lapping at my chin.
But the moment my head dips below the surface
I’m lifted.
Guided.
Pushed and shoved.
Until I’m on the deck of my ship.
 
I thought it sank.
I thought the ship, my life,
was wrecked on the shores of the island.
But she is just battered.
 
The waves of memories,
carry me out to sea.
 

28 Comments


    1. // Reply

      Thank you! It’s a poem where I tried to envision what is on the other side of grief.


      1. // Reply

        I liked how it turned around at the end. Most of my shorts end up very dark (I don’t do too much poetry), but I’ve found that stuff that is cute with a happy ending works really well on social media. Started my flashfiction/poetry group on there for that reason. Post sharable stories and try to get them to spread. Hoping one of my members will post something viral one day, then we’ll all know what worked 🙂


        1. // Reply

          I know what you mean. I have a tendency to lean toward the dark too on short pieces, particularly if they are personal in any way. I have a few pieces where I’ve tried to find the glimmer of hope at the end.
          I’ve read exactly what you’re talking about for trends on social media. I’m not sure I have the cute, happy endings in me. I think they come off as cheesy when I try.
          In the end, I feel like I try to write what I need to write, what’s asking to be given a voice, and I hope that it speaks to people, even if they normally prefer lighter topics.
          Where can people find your social media group? And is it an open group? You’ll have to let me know when you discover the secret to viral success. I’m at least curious as to what it is.


          1. //

            My first “cute” story was a simple “dog and cheese wrapper” story, which exactly one “literary” person called cliche (he should look up the meaning of that word, I think), but the 100+ views and all the comments it got was justification enough for me. I think critical people want to derail anything that’s upbeat and will actually resonate with common readers, so I did the story just to be a jerk to the lit community, and it did well, hehe.

            the flash fiction group is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/flashfictionphenomenon/

            but it isn’t very popular at the moment. And to be honest, it’s been put on the back-burner to make room for other projects I’m working on. But I read every story posted in there and try to comment.


          2. //

            It sounds like a fun group. I’ll go and check it out. It’s funny how one person decided the story was cliche. Some people have nothing better to do than try to tear down other people. It’s awesome that it received so many views though.
            I know what you mean about projects diverting your attention, but it’s awesome that you’re providing a place for other writers to share their work, and providing feedback when you can.


    1. // Reply

      Thank you, Scarlett. That is so kind. And to think, I had serious doubts about posting this. To be honest though, I think I have that gut reaction every week when I post something. It’s usually something I have to ignore and push ahead anyway.


      1. // Reply

        I think most of us battle with self-doubt when we post things on here…it takes courage to push through it. I don’t have the balls to put poetry up under my real name…I hide it away on a separate blog, so you have more courage than me! 🙂


        1. // Reply

          This made me laugh because I thought, “How in the world did I talk myself into posting poetry on here?” Because I love poetry, but it honestly terrifies me. And then I remembered that one of the first pieces I shared on this blog was a poem I wrote like 18 years ago. I had distance, and I could at least say it was something I wrote a long time ago and I’d never claimed to be a poet. My other thought was it would be like ripping off a band-aid. I figured after that, everything else I posted on here would feel easier.
          At the time, I also hadn’t written poetry in about 18 years, so I didn’t think it would come up again. Little did I know that my writing group would get a poet to join and inspire all of us to try writing poetry.
          And now I’m curious about this poetry you write, Scarlett. Feel free to slip in a link, and I’ll pretend like I don’t know it’s you. 🙂


          1. //

            I don’t mind other bloggers knowing I experiment with something vaguely resembling poetry…you can find it here – https://crawlingoutofdarknessblog.wordpress.com/

            But the reason I don’t put it under my real name is because old friends, family members, exes, etc might recognise themselves in the poems and be hurt/upset/angry, etc. It’s pretty dark stuff, but it’s cheaper than therapy 🙂

            Your poems are much less likely to offend people! Seriously, though, you do an amazing job of evoking the right mood with your poems.


          2. //

            Thank you.
            That’s a good reason for the second site, Scarlett. I don’t base my characters on real people for that very reason. Although, there are gestures, moments, and emotions that are derived from a real place. I still get questioned sometimes though if my characters are based on someone.
            I have started to process a few things through poetry and flash fiction too. Of course, the downside is that the process is longer than a single poem or story.


  1. // Reply

    Love this. It’s powerful and real. The darkness of it – grief, and longing, with a sprinkle of engulfing shame for being the one left to go on – speaks to me. But you’ve read my stories, dark is what I do, even when I manage to throw some humor in the mix. 🙂


    1. // Reply

      Thank you. When I read your summary of it, I thought, “you get me.”
      And I have to say, you write dark atmosphere so well. Before I even have a sense of what is going on in the story, I already feel the weight of it. And you always throw in good twists, whether it is a twist in the perspective or change in direction of where I thought the story was going.
      Thank for reading and taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me. Especially since this piece is very personal.


      1. // Reply

        It hit me hard. I lost my stepson to cancer in 2012, just 9 months after he was diagnosed with DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor. I always feel the darkness. Even after after 5 years post-diagnosis, the grief hasn’t gone away. I don’t think it ever will.

        I’ve always had a dark side. Some days I feel it’s my only side. I don’t write happy very well, even in the poetry I write. Which is not something I post much, because I don’t think I’m a poet. LOL


        1. // Reply

          I’m sorry for your loss. Grief is one of those common experiences we can all relate to, and yet it’s so different for each person. I can’t imagine losing a child, but I know my own loss intimately. I had never written about it until shortly before I started this blog, and then I shared my pieces about loss because I thought it might speak to other people. To be honest, it made things a lot harder instead of better. And the deaths that still hurt the most happened over a decade ago. It’s as if time didn’t bother to stop by and heal the wound. Instead it sometimes feels like it happened yesterday, and yet I can feel the weight from carrying it for so long. Once I started trying to change the endings of my poems to include a glimmer of hope though, I’ve had a reprieve. It doesn’t feel like I’m drowning all the time. I’m not sure if it will last and at times I’m certain it won’t, but I hope it will at least change how I remember them.


    1. // Reply

      I believe a thank you with an apology is in order for this comment. So, thank you, and I’m sorry. 🙂


  2. // Reply

    Wow! The powerful imagery provoked through your words is brilliant.


  3. // Reply

    Great poem! You can overcome the dark by filling your life with more light. Not always easy. But it is simple.


    1. // Reply

      You’re so right, Jeff. It is a simple concept. Sometimes the effort of imagining things being better than they are can set you on the right path.


  4. // Reply

    I love the metaphor of this, as well as the imagery within.
    This is wonderful:
    “but I drop the torch in the sand
    leaving my salvation unlit.”

    Hope, snuffed out. So powerful.

Leave a Reply