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Image by Tim Oldenkamp


with the martello journal


by ciarán parkes

In his last email he describes kelp
growing taller than the tallest tree
and how Shackleton and his small crew,
seeking help from Elephant Island, knew

they could cling to it as a last resort
if they didn’t make landfall before darkness
fell again and how the danger
wasn’t so much sinking as colliding

with the jagged coast, the cliffs, like them
all floating up above the highest branches
of kelp they could have twisted into rope
to anchor them, something like the rafts

Aran Islanders made from strands of seaweed
to drift back inland with the tide. He tells
how they made it safe ashore at last, the hull
of the James Caird battered, worn thin

as an upturned mussel shell, or maybe
leaves them there, still hanging on somehow
above the kelp, suspended in mid-air.

Ciarán Parkes lives in Galway, swimming as much as possible in the cold Atlantic. His poems have been published in The Rialto, The Threepenny Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, and other places.

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