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The Late Ferry

Two levels below me, the passengers stay put
in their queue of cars and trucks, a few playing
with laptops or iPods, one lady petting her hot yet placid
German Shepherd. They’ve done this before —
gone back & forth across the waters, avoiding the winds.
On deck above, I lean against the starboard hull
into the spray, unable to take my eyes off
a heavy female osprey on top of some ocean rigging,
just returned to her nest. As though for the first time
I ask myself in silent passage, How many babies
still need to be fed? How much can a mother carry
almost alive in her claws? Will I ever know
such hunger or final terror? That urgent love?
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the third comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

3 responses »

  1. The urgency of the narrator’s observations is beautifully done, and against the backdrop of the jaded passengers her almost desperate projections and questions come as a surprise. Glad to have found your site, following off of Breathing Poetry.


  2. Leanne Allen

    I don’t know alot about poems, but I do know what I like.
    You know it is a good poem when it keeps you wanting more,
    sad and interested that it has come to an end wondering
    will there be another. I also agree, the questions were
    unexpected, but wonderful. They just pulled me farther into the poem. I feel like I was actually there experiencing it first hand. Lovely poem, I plan on reading more. I found a link to this site off one of my friends facebook.


  3. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction
    This poem is based on a ferry trip I took to Martha’s Vineyard in June 2009. I was struck by the differences between the passengers who chose to stay inside their cars on the lowest deck (not able to see anything outside the boat) and the passengers who chose to stand exposed on the upper deck (watching everything outside the boat). The osprey, her nest on the rigging, the prey captured in her claws, and her young offspring, are factual to the event. Some of the passengers on deck were wondering out loud what the mother bird was clutching : a rat? some other animal? One man announced with certainty that the bird was an osprey. Another man used binoculars to watch the drama. Someone took a photo.
    In this poem, I speculate that the passengers below are using laptops and iPods, since at least one person whom I saw was using a computer. In this poem, I substitute “German Shepherd” for the Golden Retriever that was actually in one car : I do so for the sake of the sound echos between “German Shepherd” and “iPod” and “hot yet placid.” I do so also for the sake of the imaginary associations of German Shepherd — a dog domesticated and trained, but with a great latent potential for ferocity. (Later on the same trip, I did see a German Shepherd.)
    I thank my online critique buddy Dr. RL for his feedback on this poem.
    Sound & Sense ~
    The title “The Late Ferry” refers to the fact that all our passages in this life are taking place later in our lives than we can know. I intend for the word “ferry” to resonate with the mother bird who must “carry” killed prey as food to her babies. That natural, urgent ferrying contrasts in this poem with the mechanical and casual ferrying of people’s leisure vehicles, vacation toys, and domestic pets. While watching the osprey hard at work to keep her babies alive, I was reminded that I, too, am always subject to the pressures of survival, even while on vacation. I appreciate how the word “osprey” resonates with the words “spray” and “prey.”


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