Thursday 5 May 2022

Flying in the Face of God

by Chelsie Kreitzman

Jeni’s mom takes us to see Titanic 
on a Sunday afternoon, still in church clothes,
patent leather shoes splashing
in parking lot puddles outside the theatre.
My parents cluck about sabbath-keeping—
Sundays were not for moviegoing
when they were young—about how the film 
is rated PG-13, but I am only eleven.
I find myself here anyway, riveted 
to a dingy seat stained with popcorn butter,
beholding the Ship of Dreams.

Jeni is enamored with Leo, of course,
handsome heart-stealing ragamuffin,
but he’s not what pulls me in—
I am not yet boy-crazy. I’m the sort of kid 
who claims I never want to get married.
No, I am fascinated by the shipwreck,
the aftermath of all that icy water 
pouring into the shining black boat,
flooding the theatre with an eerie blue light 
as we watch its villainous rise.
It drags that once-precious vessel down,
down into irretrievable darkness
then goes about chilling the bodies,
silencing so many screaming lungs.
The love story is just pretend, 
but the tragedy is real.

Later, back at Jeni’s house, my head pounds; 
I’m nauseated, maybe seasick,
can’t stomach a snack when she offers me one.
Instead, I apply and reapply cherry lip balm—
the medicated kind that makes my lips tingle,
the kind that makes me think of ice.

I read that a passenger had a premonition 
about Titanic sinking. I wonder if it’s true.  
Did she feel some type of physical warning?
A particular headache, shiver up her spine?  
Why did she ignore it?

Twenty years later, the husband I married after all
walks out on me. I nearly drown 
swimming in a sea of hindsight, 
an ocean of ignored warning signs.  
I pluck artifacts from the wreckage, 
thinking about the iceberg lurking silent all along, 
about how I never should have boarded the ship.
The love story is just pretend, 
but the tragedy is real.

* * * * *

Chelsie Kreitzman lives in Kentucky with her husband, two young sons, and a tuxedo cat named Cookie. Along with all things literary, she enjoys camping, hiking, working with horses, and spending time with her family. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals, including Poetic SunThe Purpled NailStick Figure Poetry, and MockingOwl Roost.

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