Omar D. Conger, 1922; Black River

Cindy Hunter Morgan
| poetry

The Omar D. Conger was docked in Port Huron, Michigan when a boiler exploded. The ship was blown to pieces. A 200-lb radiator plummeted into the Falk Undertaking Parlors during a funeral service.


Some said the radiator was a message from God,

which caused more than a few arguments.

Even among those who believed

in a radiant God

capable of flinging a heater

through a funeral parlor,

there were some who said the coming

of the radiator was an expression

of God’s solidarity with those who grieved,

and some who said the coming

was the beginning

of an eleventh plague.

Whether it was wrath or sympathy—

darkness or radiance—

hardly made sense to others,

who claimed it was only


But even some who favored coincidence

came to feel differently

about the word.

They heard, only, coincide,

which they mouthed silently to themselves,

slipping in occasional variations:

homicide, suicide, genocide,

so many cides.

For them, the lexicon had changed.

A word was redefined by tragedy,

and in certain families in Port Huron,

some smoldering remnant of that day

lives in the language

of those who survived

the survivors. For them,

every coincidence

is a kind of death.



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 Branch, Bateau, and Sugar House Review. She lives in East Lansing, Michigan, and can be found at

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