Baled wool washed ashore for weeks.
At first, the appearance of each bundle
was sobering and macabre,
but after a few days, one woman
began to look forward to the surprise
and the wealth
of what drifted her way.
She ripped the jute bags
and pulled out the stuffing—wet, still
scented with grease and mystery.
She dried the wool, carded it, spun it,
wound it into skeins,
and made scarves and sweaters.
Sixteen men died when the ship sank.
At least something would come
of the cargo they carried—
mittens for the children of friends,
caps for five nephews.
Sometimes, she wondered why
bales floated and men didn’t,
and what buoyancy meant
for her own life,
dry as it was.