Wednesday, April 16, 2014

POEM #16- Panama Canal

Photo by Autoridad del Canal de Panama, on Wikimedia Commons
I'm participating in Mary Lee Hahn's month of torture poetry, "Our Wonderful World." Every day this month, Mary Lee selects a new wonder and invites others to write along with her. Head over to Year of Reading to read Mary Lee's poems, then go on to Kevin's blog to see his amazing visual and auditory creations.

“On Building the Panama Canal”
(or parenting, or probably a lot of other things)

When I started this journey
it seemed
as if the trip
would be relatively  easy

I envisioned
hard sweat
followed by
triumphant breakthroughs
cheering crowds
congratulatory celebrations.

I did not realize
the jungles would be so thick
the swamps so deep and strong sucking
Bubonic-ridden rats
so very large and fearless

When I started this journey
And I did not know there would be so much decay
That machines that once seemed impervious
could be reduced to rusty flakes 
in a matter of months
I did not realize there would be so much
malaria of body

When I started this journey
I did not realize
people would come and go
so quickly.
I did not know friendship was so cheap
or compromise so expensive.
I did not know souls 
could be bought for a dime or a quarter

When I started this journey,
I did not realize there would be
So much sailing bravely forward
followed by waiting endless hours 
for water 
controlled by others 
to rise.

And I did not realize times of ascent 
and smooth sailing
would be so quickly followed 
by times of descent.
That I would so often find myself in deep water,
or with my head under water
that so much water
would need to go
under the bridge

When I started this journey
it seemed
as if the trip
would be relatively  easy

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2014


Mary Lee said...

Wow. Is this ever powerful. And true, unfortunately, for both sides of the metaphor.

Makes my little sidetrack into the spring snow seem trite and frivolous.

Thank you, as always, for your deep and heartfelt honesty.

Linda B said...

Finally I am finding time to read what you and others are doing with Mary Lee's wonders. I just researched and then read Margarita Engle's Silver People about the canal. You've described it beautifully, and applied it well to your own life, Carol. The journeys are rough, but remember the canal was finally built!

Carol Varsalona said...


Your title is unique since it allows me to see into a two-sided journey of life and creation. Your detailed descriptions over a stretch of time provide insights into the Panama Canal and your life as a mother. Thank you for sharing such a powerful piece of writing.