poetry and prose about place

Briar Island Rock #4

with 4 comments



jointed ruler

                (Wreck of the Trafalgar, 1817)


the ship is broken on rocks

and we leave in fog

I hold my brother’s hand

we stumble up the shore

in a yellow room of fog

it stumbles with us

they set the baggage down

together, folded

we wait


my step-father

pats my mother’s hand

leaves to talk with the Captain

                the ship is lost

I look up at my mother

she watches him go, her lips move

she says we will lie in green pastures


I look for grass but only see

black rock and grinning fog

lanterns and men calling

my brother sniffs a little

in my pocket I clutch my father’s jointed ruler

he was a carpenter, would have fixed the hole

                the mate says

                there’s no going back to her now

we stay where we are

folded in a yellow room

luggage at our feet


the walls move

the ruler opens

I see the ship

black hull held high

on dark and pointed rock

against the early morning sky

white waves beyond

the ruler closes


pink and yellow mix, and the room

is the color of pumpkin

the ruler opens and I know

the black shore has bristles

I heard the mate call it

Briar Island


the rock I stand on tips a bit

I step down

the rock is wet and grey

five sides

a funny-looking stone

fits with other stones

strange puzzle


I take my ruler

help it to unfold

I measure the rock

I make it jiggle and my brother smiles

a little smile

the ruler folds, unfolds, the room expands

I see my step-father’s uneven walk

across uneven stones



Copyright  2011, Jane Tims


Written by jane tims

December 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “My father’s jointed ruler…” Who knows how many objects carry the stories of those no longer here… Beautiful drawing – your family is lucky to have someone who can bring the family’s stories to life!


    Barbara Rodgers

    December 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    • Hi. It would be nice if objects had a ‘hover’ feature, embedded with a paragraph to read about their history! Jane


      jane tims

      December 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  2. Good morning, Jane. What a good poem. I thought of Margarita Engle’s novels-in-verse–teaching history and poetry–for young people, really for all ages. Her website is I’ll mention your blog the next time we are in touch. Ellen


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    December 6, 2011 at 10:20 am

    • Hi Ellen. I’m glad you liked the poem. Of course the actual experience of my young great-great grandfather may have been quite different, but it helps me to understand my origins! Jane


      jane tims

      December 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm

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