Isle au Haut, Maine, Burnt Island Thoroughfare penny postcard.

Story I tell of a family love, life lifted
From tragic seas, Maine islanders saving
One in need, memories of decades past,
Our lives secluded by heart’s desire, by
Secrets or dispair, on that fateful winter
Day, sea rescue we made when the Trinity,
Merchant steamer, capsized within sight
Of our rugged Isle au Haut home.

Following shipping lanes from Nova Scotia
To Portland, heavy winds blew the agéd ship
Off course, losing headway and steerage,
Shipping icy water in ten-foot waves. As
Captain signaled for help, our lobstermen
Set hard sail, Trinity had capsized, few
Passengers and deck cargo swept into
Heaving iron-clad seas.

How does God decide who will live or die?
Waves casting crested fates, salvation by
Guiding hands, on rafting debris, a young
Woman clung to life, splash of henna hair,
Skin ice-pale, listless eyes of blue, as lobster-
Men pulled her to their boat, breathless
Words she spoke, “Mé Katherine, Sábháil
Mo leanbh le do thoil.”

Grim faces of men who carried Katherine to
Our cabin told us of her plight, full-term
Pregnant and near death, her baby at risk,
Blankets, warming fires, movement felt
Within, sharp fishing knife thrust into fiery
Hearth coals, prayers whispered as they cut
Across her abdomen, crying baby girl emerged,
By bloody birth Katherine breathed her last.

“Girl from Village, Robert Brackman, 1960, WikiArt.

We never questioned what was moral or right,
Knife-wielding decisions by lantern light, we
Accepted Irish Baby Kate as our own, auburn
Hair amongst island-family brunettes, her
Birth entered into our Bible alongside mine,
Baby sister wrested from howling winter seas,
Her Irish mother’s dying words we heeded,
“I’m Katherine, save my baby please.”

Another poem related to cesarean birth:
“Ahnah Reincarnated”

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