Eros on Battleship Island
Anything open can collapse.
A girl named Eiko snuck down
the coal shaft, her family’s grief
is clipped by shame. The new arrivals
speak of other worlds in our archipelago,
concrete walls around those cities,
how waves all night scour them
for entry. Do they ever knuckle
under the pressure, salt tempest, surrender
whatever it is they’re protecting?
A man & his boy waiting their turn to pass
Salt Rain Crossing were caught,
swept away. The island hums their names.
Cramped bathhouses, verdigris & steam,
can’t wash the news off me. A canary
dropped in the coal pit chokes, miners
scramble to surface—I won’t be the first
to throw myself at sea. Won’t be the last.
by Elisabeth Lloyd Burkhalter, first published in Mississippi Review.
Editor’s Note: The first line presages the grim drama of the stories this poem presents. Death comes for us all, sooner or later.
[Apologies for the double post: the name was incorrect in the title in the earlier post.]