Lost at Sea
Migrants' story of struggle for survival
Waves crashed on the overcrowded boat, spraying desperate passengers. The sun beat down on their backs, making their skin blister and burn. Their days-long sea journey left them without food, water, and hope.
Mothers and fathers held their crying babies, trying to shield them from the elements. They bailed water out of the boat, hoping to keep it from sinking. But it was no use. The boat was taking on water faster than they could bail it out.
One woman, her face lined with worry and fear, leaned over the side of the boat, trying to scoop up water to give to her parched children. She screamed in anguish, tears streaming down her face as she gazed at the sky.
“Please, God, help us! Save my babies!”
Her husband put a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her.
“We’ll make it. We’ll make it to Greece, and then we’ll be safe.” He knew it was a dream.
But even as he spoke, the boat lurched and tilted, and the passengers screamed in terror as it sank. Mothers and fathers clutched their children, trying to keep them afloat, but the water was too cold and too deep.
As the boat sank, passengers fought for survival in the churning sea. Some grabbed onto bits of debris, but most simply disappeared beneath the waves, their bodies swallowed up by the merciless ocean.
The surrounding chaos shocked the woman, who had prayed for her babies.
“Where are they? Where are my babies?”
Her husband shook his head, his own eyes filled with tears.
“I don’t know. I don’t know.”
As they floated there, surrounded by the bodies of their fellow passengers, they knew that their own lives hung in the balance. They clung together, hoping to survive the horror and despair.
Read my companion poem, Sea Worthy at Spillwords.
News reports state that over 500 migrants perished at sea near Greece while seeking a better life. I imagine the horror, the cries for help, mothers and fathers trying to save their children, their babies!
That numerous people will risk their lives to flee war, persecution, and poverty speaks volumes about the state of our world.
Mass migrations have many causes, including grinding poverty, limited economic opportunity, and lack of basic social supports, such as housing, education, public sanitation, and medical care; famine, hunger, pestilence, and disease; environmental damage brought on by climate change and natural disasters; war, violence, political instability and the social chaos that results. These causes are often interconnected and self-reinforcing. Complications aside, self interest in an era of global connectedness would seem to demand a response if human decency alone is not sufficient to prompt one.
Poets through the ages write about our interconnectedness, but the one quote that resonates with me is by John Donne, who was not only a poet but the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. In his most famous quote from a sermon he said (emphasis is my own):
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
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