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Andrena Zawinski: Rafts

Sun spills silver stars of light along rippling summer waves.

A string of pelicans wing the horizon,

light in flight for all their heft.


Children squeal and squirm inside their plastic inflatable.

One slips over the side, feigns drowning, splashing and kicking,

holding onto his crying sister, jumps back in to tickle her side––

all of them then swimming in giggles and smiles in frolic and fun,

family picnicking at the shore, waving from bright beach towels.


Other children, roped onto rafts in flimsy life jackets, float in

from Aleppo across the Aegean away from bombs and bullets

to find a way out, forge a way in, whole families cattled

by smugglers, squeezed in dozens deep. But those who slip into

this dark sea cannot be rescued with innocent teasing and mirth.


A three-year-old washes up onto the beach face down on the sand,

limp body leaden in his father’s arms,

water lapping the wounded shore.


Copyright 2017 Andrena Zawinski. From her collection Landings published by Kelsay Books.

6 comments on “Andrena Zawinski: Rafts

  1. Andrena Zawinski
    May 18, 2018

    “Rafts” is one of those poems that starts in one place and ends in another. I was literally at the beach near my home on a sunny afternoon watching those children frolic when the switch was flipped to other children elsewhere for whom rafts are not for play but hold the power of life and death.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kati Short
    May 17, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this poem. I’m going to read it along with a couple others on the same subject at Brentwood Writes’ Open Mic next month.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susanne Slavick
    May 17, 2018

    Typo: Andrena!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susanne Slavick
    May 17, 2018

    Many thanks for this poem and for introducing me to Andrina Zawinski’s work. As an artist working with images of rafts and issues related to refugees and immigrants, this poem was especially meaningful….

    Liked by 1 person

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