Gray Sea, Gray Ship, Floating

After Anselm Kiefer (German, b. 1945), Naglfar, 1988

This scene is not a place I should share.  It’s cold, waiting for darkness to fall. The air’s tissue thin— breath slips beneath the slosh of water against the ship’s starboard bow. The bell rings right once every thirty seconds. The dead have no sonar.  To speak of the sea’s mass grave warrants a cruel imagination.  Shut your eyes.  Now open them.
Look at these clipped fingernails, rimmed with dirt and flecks of rust stuck in the anchor’s line, like crescent moons, sharp as sickles, ready to shred the soles of feet that climb its ladder to no-where.  You know what this feels like to have your feet knocked out from under you. You can’t, no you won’t, believe this is happening to you.
This sea is a mirror of sheet metal.  See your face wedged among the others, floating on a scratched newsreel’s lens. Every frame lives in shadows— forgotten zygotes of fear. Shut your eyes. Now open them.  Don’t blink.


M.J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Between Worlds is her most recent chapbook (Foothills Publishing, 2013). Recent poems, flash fiction, and essays appear in When Women Waken, Poppy Road Review, Wild: A Quarterly, Eunoia Review, Andrea Reads America, Canto, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Poetry Storehouse, Avocet, Right Hand Pointing, Tiny-lights, The Lake (U.K.), The Kentucky Review, and more. She is the Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College. You can follow her musings on writing and creative sustainability on Red Rooster Farm at

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