Lady on the Boat with Flowers – Sally Woolf-Wade


The October sea is rolling and
the Laura B backs away,
full power astern, then swings around.
On deck is a white-haired lady with flowers. 

The summer waitstaff sailed out on an earlier boat
among friends waving wildly from the shore.
They scattered flowers over the rail
to ensure their island return someday. 

Today the white-haired lady clutches flowers tight.
She holds Zinnias, Cosmos, Black-eyed Susans —
treasured gifts from someone’s garden,
not pilfered from the island meadows.

She sways on deck with others who
hesitate to go below.
She lifts her hand and waves although
no one on shore returns her gesture

Folks have trickled off the dock.
Trucks have lumbered up the hill.
Her flowers do not flutter over the side.
There is no decent word for goodbye.

Sally Woolf-Wade

Reprinted, with permission, from Animus, vol. 14, Midwinter 2005.

One thought on “Lady on the Boat with Flowers – Sally Woolf-Wade

  1. I love this poem; it captures the really wrenching feeling of leaving the Island & reminds me of that strangely beautiful grief that some of us feel as we’re heading off–disconnecting from loved ones and from a loved place.

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