An English Girl 1957
Ocean Crossing
by Rosalind Place

I am always on the ship, never outside it.
No memory of gangplanks or getting there.
No memory of the docks or the farewells.
No memory of leaving at all.

My five year old mind recorded only these things:
a tiny cabin,
a basket of fruit,
the striped fabric of deck chairs,
the black lines of shuffleboard,
orange life jackets lined up in rows.

The things we remember and the things we forget.

A whisper warns me not to stumble into First Class.
Crying, feigning sea sickness,
I won’t let them take my picture.
My sister’s arm is around me.

Then there is a morning, my grandfather and I alone on the deck.
He lifts me up, points to the world beyond the railing.
Home is ahead of us now, not behind.
He must have said this.

I watch the river.
The green banks appear as the mist clears.
There are houses in the distance, small as toys,
and the church steeples,
tiny white crosses above the trees.

PHOTO: The author in 1958.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The loss of your homeland can leave its mark no matter how fortunate the circumstances of your leaving.  In “Ocean Crossing,” I hoped to use the remembered images from childhood and the hint of things forgotten, rather than descriptions of what I thought or felt, to convey a sense of that loss.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosalind Place is a published writer of poetry and short stories. She has recently completed her first novel. Born in England, she emigrated to Canada when she was five years old aboard the Empress of Britain. She now makes her home in rural Ontario.