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Dereliction: And the Ocean Too Weeps

Southern ocean
Christopher Michel / CC BY SA 3.0

Published Jan 16, 2023 3:57 PM by Salim Bhimji

In a rare crossover between modern maritime commerce and the realm of literature, an evocative and lyrical poem by the maritime analyst Salim Bhimji won a position on the short list for last year's Montreal International Poetry Prize.

The Montreal International Poetry Prize was founded in 2010 by the poet and critic Asa Boxer. It sponsors a crowd-funded competition, awarding one prize of $20,000 to one poet for a single poem every two years. It is a global competition, supported by an international jury of poets from around the world and participants from more than 100 countries. It is managed by the Department of English at McGill University. 

 

Dereliction: And the Ocean Too Weeps

 

Through restless centuries I have powered

Heroic onslaughts by commanders

Of the great empires. 

 

Across the ages, man has longed to unravel

The mystique that shrouds me.

The scholars of science reach 

 

For me to uncover secrets of the past.

Pioneering men seeking out new lands

Deemed me the crowning conquest. 

 

Mighty industries flourish because of me

And dynasties shaped, by men

Who wove their steel through me.

 

For entrenched within, like incipient gems,

I meld the very elements with which kingdoms

Power prosperity. Yet no man can own me.

 

Agile and self-replenishing

I am a mirror of the heavens,

Nestling every rhythm, in cycles rippling.

 

To the unwitting I am formidable.

But the same seek solace in me;

In the soft, soothing songs

That dance through my being.

 

I am the cradle of life for billions.

 

Yet, for all my elegance, I am now bereft;

Wounded. The turning tides, so harsh,

Have left me ravaged; in anguish.

 

How I yearn to be cherished again. Grant me the dignity

I deserve. That dignity which was once unspoken,

Then, almost broken.

 

To survive, I must search     reach     clutch

At new ways to reinvent myself.

A mere ritual since times long past.

 

Except these are dark days

And I face ferocious thunders ahead.

Yes, I am wrenched by the unknown.

 

Though known by many names, I am unique.

That I might look invincible 

Is simply part of the mystique. 

 

Beyond the drifted ocean,

A heroine’s grief, spoken. 

 

Salim Bhimji is a research and data analyst based in the United Kingdom. He is an Executive Director of Ocean Press & Publishing Ltd. He began his creative writing education at the Poetry School in London and describes himself as an "incurable student" of poetry. 

This poem appears courtesy of the author and may be found in its original form here

Top image: The Southern Ocean (Christopher Michel / CC BY 3.0)

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.