Between Two Seas

[The following poem is based on a story I came across many moons ago in a newspaper article from July of 1962: an open water swimmer twenty-four-year-old Mary Margaret Newell from Detroit became the first woman to successfully swim the length of the Bosphorus Strait, completing the 19 miles in 4 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds.]

Her parents called her our little fish,
but she knew, seasick and thrashed,
she was human, swimming out there
in the exacting open waters,
in the congested wake of cargo ships and tankers,
of small wooden crafts with their outboards sputtering
back to the docks of Istanbul,

out there
where the Black Sea had been left behind and
the Sea of Marmara still only a possibility,
where she cut through oil skims
and surface dregs with its taste of pollutants,
where the strident crosscurrents
punished her, her muscles like hot metal
being hammered, her body like pebbles in salt water
that seemingly sought to dissolve
the glue that held them together,

out there
in the hand over hand,
in the kick,
in the breath,
the persistent refusal.

Between Two Seas

12 thoughts on “Between Two Seas

  1. I was over at Impromptu Promptlings and saw you mention Orcas Island. I recall hearing about it, or seeing it on a map. Is it called that because Orcas can be seen in the waters around it? I love Orcas and now that I think of it, I should have put that on my list of Dreams. Is it near Lummi (sp?) Island?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Orcas and Lummi are both part of the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound. Orcas is one of the larger islands of the group, and can be gotten to by a ferry, although there is not much civilization there (so it’s more of a retirement location). There are plenty of Orcas in the vicinity of the island.


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