Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Personal Challenge ~ Helen

Greetings Toads!
Happy Summer (or Winter as the case may be)

Toad Ella has passed the challenge torch to me.  She has managed to pry me away from summer fun (craziness) with this challenge: 

"write a poem about your travels in life .. the magic of what you found.  Perhaps one of your fondest places and how it captivated.  Perhaps you could write it with a few map terms."  
(I failed miserably with the map terms, sorry.)

One would think after a long career in travel management, this would be a simple challenge for me.  {It wasn't}  Memories of countries I've visited, countless adventures, fascinating people, tradition and culture I've immersed myself in ~ all of those memories came flooding back.
Thank you Ella, for giving me pause to reflect  ~ and for trusting me with THE TORCH.

In April I sailed from the coast of Florida to Barcelona on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam ~ my first Transatlantic cruise!  I've sailed more than a few times, voyages lasting seven or fewer days. Island hopping the Caribbean or cruising along the Mexican coastline tends to make one think (in an emergency) returning home would not be problematic.  I mean seriously .. it's not like you're smack dab in the middle of an ocean!!  Cruising for a fortnight feels different.  It took a while to settle in, relax .. let the waves take me where they would ~ now to the matter at hand, poetry.

Atlantic Bathymetric Map ~ using color to show ocean depth ~ wikipedia

Old Woman and the Sea

a slight rumble under my feet
barely discernible
ship horn deep, resonant
mooring lines released, setting sail

blowing kisses to strangers on shore
toasting them with champagne
sunbeams playing hide and seek
in my wind blown hair

drawing in a deep breath
staring as the gap between
ship, shoreline widens
feeling small, invisible

floating into a watery
unfathomable no-man's land
no turning back
no point of return

watching as we slice
through waves rising, falling
gentle swells stirring emotion  
seeker of peace, the ocean

sunlight fading to dark
night sky filled with stars
space traveler
spirit and soul floating free

mid ocean, miles from
 nearest sliver of land
surrounded by deck walkers
gourmet cooks, gamblers 

sweet friendships flourish
nothing remains hidden 
on this private island made
of steel and glitz

a fortnight to reflect
changed by the sea
i bid her farewell
we will meet again


Anonymous said...

Helen, you've managed to portray both wanderlust and peace ~

Kerry O'Connor said...

What a wonderful surprise to find your personal challenge here this morning, Helen. I love to travel to foreign shores - there is a particular sense of freedom in leaving the known world behind but I also understand that separation anxiety that trails behind the first few days.

This verse really stood out for me:

sunlight fades to dark
night sky fills with stars
space traveler
spirit and soul floating free

Deep, deep sigh...

Unknown said...

Really Helen... this is so beautiful... travelling is such a bliss... you really made me feel like i was standing on the deck of a ship ready to sail away... the first staza which talks of the slight rumble under your feet makes me nostalgic in a way... Amazing!!

Ella said...

I love these lines:
"watch as we slice
through waves rising, falling
gentle swells stirring emotion
seeker of peace, the ocean"

There is a fluid feel in your ways. I am reminding of how it feels when the boat kisses the wave~

Bluetiful! Summer challenges are tough. The wanderlust of summer takes us away-as you poem did for me!

Anonymous said...

Hey Helen-- lovely poem-- agree with what all have said but you also bring out the odd mixture of desolation, nature, and floating city! What with all the gamblers and gourmet cooks! Thanks. K.

Lolamouse said...


Your poem captures the sea voyage so well. Makes me want to book a cruise today!

Maude Lynn said...

Beautiful, Helen!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love this so much, Helen. Especially "seeker of peace, the ocean".....and the image of the "space traveler" on the deck watching the night sky........I can feel how restful and reflective such a cruise must be. You took me there, I was in the deck chair right next to you.

Susie Clevenger said...

Helen, this is such a beautiful expression of sea and soul. I know the feeling of standing on the deck and peering into the infinity that is the night sky. Such a moving piece...

Jim said...

You have me on the ship, Helen. We are on the seas, sailing. Don't forget the chocolate candy on your pillow.

On April 15 we were in Key West. On Friday the 17th we took a shuttle to Ft. Lauderdale in the afternoon and boarded the Emerald Princess for a cross-Atlantic. After several stops we were in Southampton, U.K. on May 3rd and stayed in London until the 31st. We did leave for four nights in Wales and another night staying with friends in Northampton.
This will be our last for this as our daughter and her family will come home to stay after being in London five years.
I hope this gave you a feeling that we and our ships 'passed in the night.' That's what reading your lovely poem did to me. Thank you.

Helen said...

Thank you, thank you for reading, appreciating .. commenting!


Hannah said...

I love how nothing is concealed on the steel island of the sea...the peace of the ocean resonates with me, too.

What a lovely response to this personal challenge, Helen!!

It must be so amazing to travel so much!

Scarlet said...

I like this part: no turning back
no point of return

Helen, I marvel at your journey and wish you all the best ~


Marian said...

hey, space traveler!
my wanderlust has been sparked. now what do i do?!
this is lovely, Helen. bon voyage!

Stafford Ray said...

And you said this was difficult!!?
It looks so relaxed, so you. I noted the candy on the pillow comment smiled. Who wouldn't find that fun! XX

Margaret said...

If you eat the candy as you get into bed, do you have to get back up and brush your teeth? ha ha I have never been on a cruise, but the "spirit and soul floating free" is a pretty cool idea.

hedgewitch said...

Really a vivid capture, Helen(sorry to be so late to see this.) I'm afraid that while I would love o journey like that, my fears of falling, flying and drowning pretty much limits me--still I'm not yet afraid of the car, so that's something. That picture of the empty ocean and limitless horizon is starkly beautiful. A great response to the personal challenge.