Anna M. Evans

A Wreath for Rosie Gray

There is a moment right before disaster
when everything is perfect. I can see
Titanic forging through the ice field, faster
than any ship before her. Then there's me,
observing the date, about to call my father.
We're so wrapped up in things, we hardly know
with lives this trouble-free, we ought to rather
pause them if we could, or take them slow.

But time continues its relentless pace,
events unfold in fixed and linear motion.
Never again, that smile upon my face
before I dial their number. There's an ocean
of grief before us, not quite yet in sight.
The well-lit ship speeds onward in the night.

The well-lit ship speeds onward in the night,
the lookout sees the iceberg, calls it in.
The ship evades it. Everything's all right!
With hindsight, there are many ways to win.
Yet, at the time perhaps you see the danger
but cannot grasp exactly what it means.
In real life, conditions are much stranger
than anything in glossy magazines.

In fifteen years abroad, I'd never not
connected with my mother on the phone.
My father sounded vague, a bit distraught,
and could I call back later? So we postpone
full knowledge of our issues and their bulk,
the looming iceberg's black and massive hulk.

The looming iceberg's black and massive hulk
materializes, frighteningly near.
Alarms sound, but Titanic's powerful bulk
is slow to turn. The bridge is fraught with fear.
I call my parents back, this time insist
on speaking to my mother. She's all wrong—
unlike herself. I wonder if I'd missed
some signs that this was happening all along.

I prize out facts: a cough, a new prescription,
now this confusion no-one understands.
It's hard to gauge the threat from the description,
but they could use another pair of hands.
So I assess my duty as a daughter,
consider crossing miles of open water.

Consider crossing miles of open water—
Titanic was a ship unlike no other.
The triple expansion engines that had brought her
this far shut off. Now silence reigns.
                                         My mother
meanwhile garbles nonsense. Somehow I
will set my life at anchor, leave it frozen,
make my Atlantic passage. Of course, I'll fly.
It's not, perhaps, the spring break I'd have chosen.

But I must see what's happening. The only way
is go and look. I'm hoping there's an answer—
a different drug? Someone prepared to say
the doctor's wrong? Remind them she beat cancer?
I make the trip alone and ill at ease.
Sometimes we find ourselves in unknown seas.

Sometimes we find ourselves in unknown seas.
To call a ship unsinkable tempts fate,
to act like that naively is to tease
such fate beyond endurance. Still we create
these myths—what child can see her parents dying?
We build in safety features to prevent
catastrophes; there must be things worth trying.
Titanic's bulkheads make their steep descent.

The breached compartments hiss as they are sealed.
The bridge is warm and noisy with relief.
Though there are those on board who know this shield
won't hold, for now they foster the belief
that Titanic will not sink. Like them I fight
the fear that everything is not all right.

The fear that everything is not all right
moves like gossip through the stirring ship.
Clearly the lowest decks aren't watertight,
whatever was said about her maiden trip.
The truth is that she's making water fast.
We change my mother's pills. Her cough gets worse,
the things she says and does that must be classed
as odd have multiplied. We call the nurse.

A bladder infection's breezily suggested.
Apparently this turns old people funny.
We send a urine sample to get tested,
but the NHS is stretched and short of money
and no one says the name of a disease.
It's just like dying slowly, by degrees.

It's just like dying slowly by degrees.
Captain Smith conducts a full inspection,
concludes Titanic's had it, and agrees
it's time to lower the boats.
                                         There's no infection
in my mother's urine. We change her pills again
and watch her constantly. She eats odd things,
pours her expensive perfume down the drain,
pretends to text on card tables, and sings.

That night she vomits, pees herself and strips.
I carry her to the bathroom like a child,
pull her panties up round skinny hips.
Next day she's unrecognizable, and wild,
lashes out blindly, falls into a sulk.
These are the nightmares where our demons skulk.

These are the nightmares where our demons skulk—
Titanic's tilting hard toward the bow
because the water's overflowed the bulk
heads. All the passengers have woken now.
We follow my mother to the hospital—
she isn't getting better, we can't cope.
I get home late. Exhaustion takes its toll.
I fall asleep, and in my dream, there's hope.

Hope springs eternal…etc. Next day I find
she's had pneumonia all along. I think
that maybe they can cure her now? Her mind
seems clearer.
                     There's little doubt the ship will sink.
Tipped forward, listing starboard in the water.
The brave keep busy, do not think of slaughter.

The brave keep busy, do not think of slaughter.
I teach my college course by remote control,
visit my mum twice daily, the good daughter,
fix the little things and avoid the whole,
sit at home each night with my dad and drink.
Women and children first, goes out the call.
Everyone knows Titanic's going to sink
while I grade papers, trying not to bawl.

How could they launch the ship with so few boats?
They move my mother to intensive care.
Still the iron inside me somehow floats
even as she's drowning in the air,
even as my side is pierced by fear.
The SOS gets sent but no-one's near.

The SOS gets sent but no-one's near.
I call my brother in Australia
but he can't come—the wrong time of the year.
Toward Titanic, the Carpathia
is steaming at a reckless rate of knots.
My mother fights for every single breath—
they want to intubate her, ask for my thoughts.
They will not say it, but the risk is death.

The risk of life is death, I think, and worse,
there are no odds of evading it at all.
I call my brother again, am brutal, terse.
He still can't come. I weep as I end the call.
Do it, I tell the doctors, suddenly brave.
If luck holds out there may be life to save.

If luck holds out there may be life to save.
Sedated, her oxygen levels are on the rise.
Titanic snaps and drops to her watery grave,
the freezing sea alive with the swimmers' cries.
How peaceful it must be, where she settles under
the numbing currents, muffling the noise above.
I read my mother poetry and wonder
if she can hear me, if she feels my love.

Many are dead in fifteen minutes or less,
not by drowning, but from the lethal cold.
My mother's fingers turn blue. I repossess
her wedding ring, a simple band of gold.
Like ghosts the staff appear and disappear
in random waves. There are no constants here.

In random waves there are no constants. Here
comes the new doctor now. Her brain scan's back.
I grip my father's hand, and swallow a tear,
try to follow: three strokes, a heart attack.
No hope of full recovery.
                               One boat
rowed back to the wreck to pick up people dying.
The rest were scared they wouldn't stay afloat
and so they shivered until the dead stopped crying.

How do you let another die, and live?
They said it was our choice, turn off the machines
or not.
           How can the ones who live forgive
themselves and carry on their same routines?
I sent my father home. It wasn't brave.
Is the first place of death the actual grave?

Is the first place of death the actual grave?
It was for many souls who died that day,
their bodies lost. Still, Carpathia did save
some seven hundred and five, gone on their way
to New York City.
                    I leave my mother's side
both numb and raw. A friend will drive me home.
She opened her eyes just once before she died,
and looked past me, her gaze as bright as chrome.

I search for something tender and profound,
but death is neither—it's pointless and it's cheap
and needn't have happened.
                               1500 drowned
or frozen to death, their futures lost in the deep.
Listen to them: Trust in no God, they warn.
We are all orphans as soon as we are born.

We are all orphans as soon as we are born.
Mother, I miss you. A tiny tragedy.
No movie version to heap with praise or scorn.
My dad and your son will soon be visiting me—
yes, I forgave him. All of us make our choices.
Every day on earth is like a gamble.
This poem's a way of gathering human voices
against the dark, and mainly in preamble.

Life's a short trip with just one destination,
then there's a nothing deeper than the sea.
Some people die alone, some in congregation,
some I don't care about, some mean the world to me.
Most of the time I'm glad that I was born.
There is nothing to do but live and mourn.

The well-lit ship speeds onward. In the night,
the looming iceberg's black and massive hulk.
These are the nightmares where our demons skulk.
The fear that everything is not all right—
it's just like dying slowly, by degrees.
Consider crossing miles of open water—
sometimes we find ourselves in unknown seas.
The brave keep busy, do not think of slaughter.

The SOS gets sent but no-one's near.
If luck holds out there may be life to save.
In random waves there are no constants. Here
is the first place of death, the actual grave.
We are all orphans as soon as we are born.
There is nothing to do but live and mourn.

On Visiting the Titanic Exhibition in Vegas With My Teenage Daughters

"I'm the King of the World!"
~ Jack Dawson, James Cameron's

Trust me, I say, you're going to be enthralled.
Curious, they wander toward the model ship.
They are the undisputed Queens of the world.

The bills of lading, the passenger manifold
aren't that exciting to them. I bite my lip.
Trust me, I'd said, you're going to be enthralled.

But then we enter a room that's kept so cold
the genuine iceberg loses barely a drip.
They are the undisputed Queens of the world.

And next a chamber where a swathe of the hold
brought from the seabed is set up, a vertical strip.
Trust me, I'd said. I think they are enthralled.

Of course, there's a place where the movie set's installed
from the famous scene. This won't be cheap, I quip,
but they are the undisputed Queens of the world.

Lorna stands at the bow, her arms unfurled.
Becky steadies her, one hand upon her hip.
Trust me, she says. I can only watch, enthralled.
They are the undisputed Queens of the world.

Animals of the Titanic

Astor's Airedale, Kitty, perished along with her owner
Ben, Captain Smith's Irish Wolfhound, put ashore in Southampton
Chow Chow, left behind by Harry Anderson, drowned
Dog, a Fox Terrier, last seen swimming
English Foxhounds, 100, booked on alternate passage
Frou Frou, detached from her grip on Helen Bishop's gown, perished
Gamin de Pycombe, prize-winning French Bulldog, drowned
Hens and roosters, caged, drowned
Isham, Ann Elizabeth, and her Great Dane, bodies recovered together
Jenny, ship's mouser, drowned
Kittens of Jenny, likewise
Lady, Pomeranian of First Class passenger Margaret Hays, survived
Mice and rats, free-living, drowned
Newfoundland Rigel, survivor and hero, apocryphal
Objections raised to the three dogs on the lifeboats, none
Pomeranian belonging to Elizabeth Rothschild, survived
Quote: "I refuse to get on the lifeboat without my dog."
Rothschild, Martin, body never recovered
Sun Yat Sen, Pekinese of Henry Sleeper Harper, survived
Terrier and Spaniel of the Philadelphia Carters, perished
Unconscionable, the 56 children left out of the lifeboats
Vacancies on the lifeboats, 40%
Wealthy survivors, 200 plus three dogs
and XYZ, and XYZ, and XYZ


Anna M. Evans' poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan University at Burlington County College. Her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press. She blogs at annamevans.com/wordpress.


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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Jane Kenyon by Susan Spear.

Gail White and Nausheen Eusuf are the recipients of the 2017 Mezzo Cammin Scholarships to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Alice Mizrachi is a New York based interdisciplinary artist working in the mediums of painting, installation, murals and socially engaged art. Her work explores the interconnectedness of individuals and community through the dual lens of compassion and empathy. Through figurative work that reinforces both personal and community-oriented identity, Alice aims to inspire creative expression and a sense of shared humanity through art.

Alice has worked as an arts educator for nearly twenty years for a variety of organizations including BRIC Arts, The Laundromat Project and The Studio Museum in Harlem. As a pioneer in the field of socially engaged art at the local level, Alice has been recognized and selected to develop arts education curriculum for organizations such as HI-ARTS (Harlem, NY), Dr. Richard La Izquierdo School and Miami Light Project. She has also been a panelist discussing community-engaged art for events at Brown University and The Devos Institute of Arts Management.

As a painter, Alice maintains both a studio practice and an extensive body of work as a muralist. Her work have been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, UN Women and the Museum of Contemporary Art in DC. She has been commissioned as a mural artist for projects in Amsterdam, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and across the United States by organizations and museum including: Knox-Albright Museum, Buffalo, NY; Worcester DCU (Worcester, Massachusettes); Wall Therapy (Rochester, NY); La Mama and Fourth Arts Block (NYC); Miami Light Project (Miami, FL); and, Chashama (Harlem, NY), among others.

Alice's mural and installation work has been constructed in galleries and public spaces as part of site-specific arts education and community development projects. Her work often engages local neighborhoods and reflects positive visual responses to social issues. Her process activates a shared space of love, hope, optimism and healing as a means to connect with participants. Frequent topics include identity, unity, migration and the sacred feminine.

Alice and her art have been featured in a variety of publications including the book, 2Create, Outdoor Gallery: New York City, the New York Times, and Huffington Post and The Architectural Digest. She has a BFA from Parsons School of Design and was an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in 2015. Alice was also the co-founder of Younity, an international women's art collective active from 2006-2012. She has received grants from The Puffin Foundation and The Ford Foundation. Her recent projects include a residency in Miami with Fountainhead, a residency with Honeycomb Arts In Buenos Aires and a mural with The Albright Know Museum in Buffalo. Alice currently holds a studio space at The Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. Her upcoming projects include a workshop/ panel at Brown University and a book release in Summer 2017.

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