The Concrete Ships: Poem by Miriam Sagan

The Concrete Ships

At first you thought
the tankers in the shipping lane

weren’t real, but some kind
of mystic breakwater

then they seemed real enough
to leave, and go in search of

of something else
nine concrete ships

piled up in the Chesapeake
to protect from storms, and the imagination

that balks
at floating perpendicular skyscrapers

ghosts of war
never leave certain shores

transport
is its own holy grail quest.

As children
we rather loved

the huge fractured hull
sinking in the sand

broken off, a monument
to failure, wreckage

not unlike our scarred exhausted
grandfather

who still could tell
quite a story.

It rained at night
off Hatteras

the place names
soothe me like a lullaby

but even the strongest lighthouse
can be displaced

and dreams dashed
over these rocks.

***
https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/kiptopeke-s-concrete-fleet

Photos from Atlas Obscura

Against the Machine–Miriam Sagan

I’ve had many adventures recently. I flew for the first time since the pandemic. Two minutes into the trip I fond myself sobbing as TSA patted me down–first once, then twice, in a private area. Well, I was an accident waiting to happen and by the time I was told I had “residue” on my constantly washed hands and that I’d set the machine off by wearing a dress, I was in nervous tears. “Everyone cries” the TSA lady said in a calming attempt.

She was obviously not a bad person, but what kind of system is this? Like most systems, hard on women in dresses–traditional, modest, or chosen. Like contemporary systems, promoting the machine, including cell phones, computers, and imaging devices, not as helpful tools for life but as technological gods we must placate and please.

I had an opposite experience waiting for my flu shot yesterday. A woman in her eighties, wearing a beautiful medallion of the Virgin, started chatting. Her hugely pro-vaccine stance reminded me of my Jewish mother, despite the obvious differences. “My mom had a cousin with polio,” I offered. “And she was ecstatic when the vaccine came out.”

“I had polio as a child,” the lady said quietly. “A mild case. My right leg doesn’t work well and my left is over developed but I’ve had a long and good life.”

“How can people not get the Covid vaccine?” she asked. We shook our heads. Here was a miracle of technology that works, and yet people reject it.

Acceptance isn’t the last refuge of failure, but it isn’t my go-to either. I’m treading a narrow path between my trust in critical thinking and my need to not judge humanity every minute of the day.

It’s nice here in New Mexico in autumn. Th oak tree my son-in-law planted by the mailbox is turning a gorgeous red.

I’m well aware that more than one thing is happening at once–and I hope that in your world many of those things are good.

Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Museum

Janet Echelman’s colorful fiber and lighting installation, suspended from the ceiling of the Renwick Gallery’s Grand Salon, examines the complex interconnections between human beings and our physical world, and reveals the artist’s fascination with the measurement of time.

It was overwhelming to see this–just transformative!

Photo by Isabel Winson-Sagan. We were lucky to share the experience.

North Rim: Poem by Miriam Sagan

From a recent visit to the Grand Canyon.

***

North Rim

it’s not often I can see like this
sitting beneath the twisted pinon tree
that breaks a stone boulder
it’s a far view in both directions
appears as mineral
layers of the Colorado Plateau
cut like a surgical patient
to reveal
a slow intensity
of hope

tourists pass going up and down the trail
snapping pics of themselves, each other
wide open meaning of earth

it seems simple
to be either
at the rim or the river
but it’s not…

psalm of updrafts
raven’s flight
these wings might have created wind
roots might just be another way of saying branches
the fire burns and burns
leaves charred trunks and small aspens
clusters of little sisters
girls of the trembling leaves
turning yellow, orange, autumn
equinox sitting cross-legged
cradling my cane
who sees me, sees just another person
feels cold, heat

give me a kiss