THE SEA GAVE UP THE DEAD THAT HID IN IT I. Despite their spare, haphazard burial— three feet of dirt to seal the resting place— accounts say they were given proper rites. The morning of the wreck, the doomed men saw calm sunlight manifest in glass-green crests that thrashed and slashed. Above, storm clouds frayed gold. Sharp rays shot through the ship’s snapped masts. The vessel gave itself up to the deep that gulped the dead it soon would spit back out. II. With rage all spent, the tempest tamed itself, and in the slanted light of afternoon the locals now spied specks among the waves: the precious cargo ripe for scavengers. Bananas bright as heaven bobbed among the dark detritus. Wooden casks appeared on shore. The villagers pried off the lids to find spiced rum, and they enjoyed the boon. Some drank themselves into oblivion. III. In voices smooth as splinters, men who’d found good fortune in the day sang sea shanties around the fire until dawn rouged the sky. One even drank himself to death. The sea would soon give up the dead that hid in it, for souls can’t drift away from day for long. Yes, dizzy waters at some point must yield what their cold depths aren’t meant to hold. And woe to those who try to keep a spirit down.
Lesley Clinton has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW), the Poetry Society of Texas, and the Houston Poetry Fest. Her chapbook of poems, Calling the Garden from the Grave (Finishing Line Press), won 2nd place among books of verse in the NFPW 2020 Communications Contest. Lesley has book reviews published or forthcoming in America Magazine and Christianity and Literature, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as THINK, Mezzo Cammin, The Windhover, Presence:A Journal of Catholic Poetry, Grotto, and Ekstasis Magazine.