Issue 9,  Poetry

SS St. Louis, 1939 by Merril D. Smith

At sea, adrift between worlds,
one of terror
one of hope,

we travel, nine hundred of us,
borderless, in transit,
from beating, burning, and a thousand indignities.

But here, the mustached man’s portrait is flipped over;
we try to forget what is and what might be,
we try not to think about those left behind.

With our mouths lipstick red,
we flirt, dancing in luxury, content,
even joyous, in this moment,

we cross time zones
hoping to outrun our futures,
fortunate or foolish

we sail on,
feel the sea-salted wind,
the rolling motion, so different from a train’s.

Unhindered, unrestrained, we eat our meals.
Some pray. The food is good, there is plenty–
we didn’t know we’d have to eat for tomorrow.

From the deck, we watch a pod of dolphins
diving below the water, rising up high in the air.
They follow in our wake with dolphin smiles,

and we smile back. Laugh with the joy of being alive.
Later, in the camp, I’ll remember those dolphins
and think of how we, like they once soared, free and happy.


Merril D. Smith is an independent scholar with a Ph.D. in American History. Her poetry and stories have appeared recently in Vita Brevis, Streetlight Press, Ghost City, Twist in Time, Mojave Heart Review, Wellington Street Review, Blackbough Poetry, and Nightingale and Sparrow.

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