Nancy L. Meek

MY HEART SANK WHEN I HEARD THE NEWS

I can’t envision those crewmen’s bones
at rest on the bed of that sea,
after their battleship was sunk
by some Japanese submarine.

I’m locked on their handsome faces
as the camera captured their grins,
before they spied those hungry sharks
and their slowly-circling fins.

I can see their oil-slicked bodies
as they struggled to stay afloat
atop an ocean of burning eyes
and those hundreds losing hope.

I watched the famished fall asleep,
too exhausted from holding on;
then I whispered a prayer for them
as the ocean sang its song.

I saw the remnants who were saved,
as they mourned their brothers’ dead,
the image of those shark attacks
still dancing in their heads.

I still can’t see their bones, however,
at peace beneath the ocean’s glare,
but cast to the sea by life’s fragility
circling… circling, like sharks in the air.

USS Indianapolis’ crewmen. Circa 1944-45
Photo # 80-G-336932: USS Indianapolis’ crewmen. Circa 1944-45
(This is the photograph that inspired the poem)