Journey Out of Europe

If there’s a sound she remembers,
it’s the creaking of the rope
as she walked across the ramp

of the ship floorboards
of the entire floating slum

the groaning of a dozen sick men
leaning precarious over the rails
their vomit flicking
the sides of the portholes

the women, too busy—
with crying children or
that the unsafe clambering
ones didn’t end up perilous
—to succumb themselves.

Years later, she’d wake
to feel swaying rocking
her tenement bed

and she’d toss and turn, restless,
upon a port that somehow
despite years now put into harbor,
refused to be less uncalm, unsure.

Michelle Cameron’s poetry has appeared in many online and print publications. She lives in New Jersey, where she is a founding member of No Retreat, a women’s poetry collective.