The Carpenter of Lampedusa by Carolyn O’Connell

I am not a silent poet

Francesco was the creator of furniture
for farms and towns, of chairs, tables
anything sourced from wood; olive his
preferred tree scenting each slice of the plane,
chip of a chisel, shavings falling from his lathe.

Running to the beach locals saw them
struggling against the rise of the wave
heads battling for breath, arms clawing
and the orange lifebelts of the dead
blooming on the sand, scattered cracked
planks of wrecked boats they’d boarded
with hope now shattered with dreams, families.

Men strode into the storm, drew crowds
from the waves but their efforts were puny,
he saw the grief, their loss and rejection
offered his skills to solace their despair,

bending he grasped the shattered planks
and fashioned crosses from the staves
symbols of crucifixion, their loss
passing to these refugee Christians
a token of comfort, memorial of the lost,

who Europe bars with wire thorns fearful

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