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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: An Ocean's End
By Francy Judge
08/25/10


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A helicopter hovers;
Propellers slice the sky;
An artificial eclipse
Shadows sunbathers,
Attracts curious eyes;
Magnetic, hypnotic,
Is it another swimmer?
Beach town natives know—
The helicopter hunts.

I jog…
Each step settles
Into wet packed sand
White waves rush over my feet,
Hurrying to go nowhere.
I breathe hard,
Barely moving.
I stop…

A crowd gathers;
A young girl placed center
On a stage of seaweed;
She doesn’t breathe—
The sea stole her breath.
Mouth to mouth
Doesn’t work;
She’s gone.

A cry…
“No, she’s not!”
A teacher breaks through the chain of children…

Today’s trip,
Her last school day,
Away from city streets,
Ended at the endless ocean.

“Breathe! Breathe!”
But she doesn’t.

To the city,
The bus returns
Wet, sandy, sunburned kids
In silence.
One seat is empty
Is this real?
Why?

A phone call…
Her mother screams:
“How could this happen?”
Excuses can’t comfort.
Only God.
He was there,
At her first breath,
At her last.

********

This poem was inspired by a true story. At the end of this spring, an elementary school came to our beach for the day before lifeguards were on duty. My husband walked along the beach until he reached the horrific scene.


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This article has been read 477 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Author Unknown08/26/10
86 children this summer (in our area). It's what our paper said yesterday. This strikes very close to home. I like the interpretation on the topic, but maybe would have enjoyed it more as a story. Although, the stilted poetic form makes it feel more *gaspy*. Nice job not going for the obvious take on the topic, and nice title, too.
Mark Kinsman08/27/10
This hits hard, I agree this may not have been the proper style to convey this story in. Well done and heart felt as you obviously have the soul of a poet. The ending is profound in any format.
Charla Diehl 08/27/10
A tragically sad way for a fun school outing to end. Only God can take these dark moments and squeeze sunshine from them in His timing.
Such few words told this story, but they were weighted with emotion. Good work!
Caitlyn Meissner08/28/10
Oh, and see, I thought it sounded good as a poem. It would have been much harder to get all the emotions into a story, and really make people sad. I think you did great.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/31/10
Oh how sad, I can't imagine the pain of the parents, the school and your husband. This is a nice tribute so that the little one will be remembered by those she never met but still mourn her loss.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/02/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and in the top 40 overall.