Turtle Island (part four)

Posted by ractrose on 17 Feb 2020 in Art, Poems

Oil painting of turtle-shaped volcanic island



Turtle Island




Great movements of the Banda Arc

Have stirred this little-reckoned peak

The Corinth for a contrary tide

Carried helpless and far asea

Sunset across a morning sky

A column boils heaven-high

An avalanche shoreward blanketing

Treetops engulfing, all left whited

A mainsail torn from the mast…this cloud

Lays itself likewise contouring earth

The ship is lifted by a swell


Of numbers doomed are none to tell

Prisoner and rescuer skim away

The ripping current catching

Watch her kin flee their coastal huts

Ten outriggers swamped while ten more spring

Thrillingly to burst the breakers

Tribal ensigns seen like flame


On stored provisions live that lucky handful

Twenty or so canoes to make a fleet

North they sail a hundred miles

passing only scoured beaches

Signaling but spotting not

flag, nor light, nor smoke

Three days of thirst at journey’s end

belaying hunger, bitter boon

and then at last the palm-ringed harbor

of a laborers’ town

Sundry goods, and many dead, the people say

come floating on the tide to use or burial

day to day

The prisoner and his wife, for so it was

She mourning for her loss, he miracle-blest

make their home in this forgotten place




Turtle Island

Oil painting of turtle-shaped volcanic islandTurtle Island (part one)
Wonderfully Made
















(2020, Stephanie Foster)