Caroline Davies

The wine-dark sea

In this sea there are many lives,
all the men who sailed to war
to bring home a stolen woman.
What they lost was themselves.
The few who returned were changed
like iron smelted in the fire.

My grandfather crossed this sea,
a young man in another conflict,
his wife and daughter at home.
His ship laden with supplies of war,
designed to explode and burn.
He was one of the few who returned.

What if he could see today’s wine-dark sea
and the small fishing boats unfit for the high seas
with their cargo of women and children.
He would be dismayed to witness the water
awash with human flotsam
and would say the world has gone mad.

And blind Homer if he were alive
would tell of every drowned child
including the brown skinned baby boy
whose mother clutched him to her breast
but the salt water did for them both.

Homer would remember their names
that even in death she held on to her son.
All we know are the numbers of deaths.
Like waves that lose themselves in the sand.
Who can count the waves?


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