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  • Caroline Earleywine

Scientists Say the Titanic Will Disappear in 20 Years

Updated: 3 days ago

By Caroline Earleywine

Footage of the Titanic’s departure shows passengers swarmed her decksto say farewell. Women waved handkerchiefs across the railing, any voice

or sound drowned in silent film. What’s more haunting is her body

abandoned on the ocean floor –– all those ballrooms once filled

with laughter and dancing, now an empty tomb fish float across

like ghosts. Now a crushed piano, its keys crooked teeth in a broken

smile, a portrait of decay. Rust-icicles form a beard across the ship’s

face, which now we know is the sign of her second death, the metal-

eating bacteria that every day makes her smaller. This is an iceberg

we can see coming, but are just as powerless to stop. Is it more

graceful, more gentle, this death? How many ways are there

to disappear? In my classroom, a book vanishes from

the shelf. A rainbow sticker is torn from the wall. Every day

I walk in and find I have become smaller. I pause before

I mention my wife. I pretend the news doesn’t exist.

I wear a Black Lives Matter pin on my lanyard but

never say the words out loud. I am impartial

to the point of invisibility. It is more than empty

ballrooms. More than the way my body

is becoming see-through, how my rust-

beard drags the floor. More than

the iceberg we see coming, that is

already here. It’s not even that

it may be too late to pull myself

to the surface and have any

part of me left. It’s that

I don’t think I’ll like

whatever

remains.


 

Venom 

By Caroline Earleywine


My first classroom was at the end  

of the hall. My teacher desk sat on  

a platform that I sometimes tripped  

on when I’d write on the board,  

and the day we read a Medusa 

poem, a tiny snake emerged from 

its worn carpet, my ninth graders  


suddenly tittering with excitement.  

I wouldn’t let anyone touch it, emptied 

a trashcan and put it top-down on 

the snake, a makeshift cage, and evacuated 

my students outside while the principals 

took care of the unwelcome visitor.  


That was the year my students acted out 

Romeo and Juliet, learned the lines 

by heart. All day I watched Romeos 

mime drinking poison and slump 

dramatically on the classroom floor 

moments before Juliet opened her eyes.  


That was the year a boy asked to speak 

to me in the hall. He shifted from one foot 

to the other, wrung his hands, said he needed 

to tell me something, said I seemed like a person 

he could talk to and before I could process 

what was happening, I told him I was  


a “mandated reporter,” that I had to report 

if he was in danger, from himself or others, 

and the boy’s mouth closed, and he said 

“Never mind,” and no matter how I tried 

to reassure him, he wouldn't talk to me. 

A week later, he stopped coming to school. 


When I talked to the counselors, they said 

there was nothing they could do. I will always 

wonder about the harm I did that day, the words 

I stopped him from saying — I will always regret 

the poison of my fear.


 

Things That Could Be Said AboutBoth Divorce And Leaving Teaching 

By Caroline Earleywine


Think of the children. It’s not meant to be

easy. But you seemed so happy. You were


made for this. I just thought you were in it for

the long haul. You’re so good together. Every


relationship has problems. Have you tried

counseling? I just always saw you


together. What else will you do? You made

a promise. It’s not meant to be


so hard. I don’t know how you made it

this long. You deserve more. Love

shouldn’t be so painful. Good


for you. There’s a whole world

on the other side of this grief – just


hold on. It gets so much better.

I’m proud of you. I know how hard

you tried. Someday, it won’t hurt


so much. It’s okay to remember

the good times. You need to take time


to heal. You deserve to feel safe. To feel

loved. Someday, this will all make

sense. You’ll look back and understand


why it could never work out. You are not

a failure. Sometimes leaving


is coming home to yourself. How brave

to make that change. To choose

you. What a good example


you are setting.

Think of the children. 





 

Caroline Earleywine is a poet and educator who taught high school English in Central Arkansas for ten years. She’s a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and was a 2021 finalist for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She earned her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, and Sibling Rivalry Press published her chapbook Lesbian Fashion Struggles in 2020. A Jack McCarthy Book Prize winner, her debut full-length collection, I Now Pronounce You, will be out with Write Bloody Publishing in April 2024. She lives in Little Rock with her wife and two dogs. You can keep up with her work at www.carolineearleywine.com



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