Henry Clay, 1851; Lake Erie

Cindy Hunter Morgan
| poetry


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.


Cindy Hunter Morgan teaches creative writing at Michigan State University and is the author of two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including West BranchBateau, and Sugar House Review. She lives in East Lansing, Michigan, and can be found at cindyhuntermorgan.com.

Ladies Union
Omar D. Conger, 1922; Black River