In the dead of night, we boarded the boat to save our lives.
I was woken in my sweat, as I was shaken by my wife.
She grabbed our screaming daughters; I loaded a boat with supplies.
Then used the radio, having to yell over the little girl’s cries.
With no reply, we loaded the boat.
Not bothering to row, on the current, we float.
Three weeks have past, since we watch our ship burn at sea.
Having faith in our lord Jesus, I told them was key.
“God will save us,” I said with conviction.
“It’s all part of his divine plan, even this affliction.”
The food has run out, though we still have water.
My head is throbbing in sync with the cries of my daughter.
Our eldest girl has been brave, making barely a sound.
In this time of hardship, as a father, I’ve never been more proud.
The nights are the worst, with this north Atlantic weather.
The cold pricks our bones, as we crowd together.
But we have enough blankets that the cold won’t mean death.
I know the truth in my heart; hunger will take our last breath.
I know what must be done to save who I can.
It is the tough decisions which truly define a man.
When the girls fall asleep, with the pangs of hunger
In whispers, I explain our reality to their mother.
“The girls are weak and will only grow weaker.
With no prospect of food, our chances grow bleaker.”
She claims to understand, though she looks untroubled,
As she slips under my blankets in order to cuddle.
I continue with my proposal, as I mapped in my mind.
“As you well know, this is all part of God’s grand design.”
She nods her head and whispers, “I do.”
Looking beautiful in the moonlight, though her lips are blue.
“Then you know his work to be done in death too?”
Again, she nods and whispers, “I do.”
“Being practical, you must know, our youngest will die first.”
Silently, she agrees, but into tears she burst.
I hold her tight, deciding to be patient.
Giving her time to grasp the situation.
No longer crying, I begin once more.
“Then think about this, think hard, I implore.”
She sits up straight, looking confused but serious.
Taking me in, showing no sign she’s delirious.
“Tell me, does it make sense to let all four of us die?
When more time is available, I ask you, why?
Why let our oldest die, to avoid feeling guilt?
Saying goodbye, to all that we’ve built.
Our youngest will die, no matter what we do.
If we end her life now, our eldest won’t die too.”
My wife stares shocked and moves further from me.
She slapped my face, but in her eyes, I knew she agreed.
It only took a day for her to admit the truth.
Our eldest cried of hunger as my wife tried to sooth.
“Sweetheart, don’t cry, we’ll have food very soon.”
And without looking up, she gave a nod towards June.
I pulled my knife from its sheath, before she could take it back.
Lifting my four-year old’s chin, I committed the act.
The cry from both mother and daughter, was like nails down my spine.
But as the life poured from her neck; I had food on my mind.
It took all day, for me to cut her apart.
Though I occasionally snuck bites from even the start.
The trick was to cut her up until she only looked like meat.
Any resemblance to June, and I knew the girls wouldn’t eat.
Her body was small, though I couldn’t help but be cheerful.
This meat could last us two weeks, if we are careful.
And so, it did, but not the water.
A day after running out, I considered our daughter.
I should have stored June’s blood, I realized too late.
Though there will be more blood in our eldest, being almost eight.
Just as before, I whispered to my wife.
“We may be saved, for the price of a life.”
Her face was unresponsive as the wind blew a chill.
“Just remember, this is all God’s will.
This must be his plan and what he desires.
For if it weren’t, then why set our ship on fire?”
With cracked lips, she nods once in silence.
Closing her eyes, to not witness the violence.
Taking no time to consider my wife’s grief.
I pulled out a bucket, feeling only relief.
Pathetically, my daughter kicked and cried.
Placing the knife on her throat, I felt alive.
“No more crying, dear. You’ll soon be an angel.”
Then ran the knife across the throat of the girl named Rachel.
With every sip, my wife looked more sicken.
Though I had little trouble consuming the thick liquid.
That night we slept, though not together.
Both shivering in pain, in that arctic weather.
The next morning, I woke with the sun on my face.
That’s when I saw the ship and could feel God’s grace.
For the first time I wept as I woke my wife.
“God sent a ship. He’s decided to spare our life.”
Signaling they see us, the ship rings it’s bell.
I continue to cry, almost through with this hell.
My wife cried as well, but not with relief.
Her cries were weighted with her guilt and grief.
“What will they say?” She asks looking scared.
The bag with our daughters she weeps as she stares.
“They must never know.” I say with certitude.
Seeming to not have heard, she continues to stare at the food.
I grab the bag of meat and throw it over the side.
When I turned around, I saw the look in her eye.
She is going to tell them, I realized in that instant.
I still had time, with the ship at a distance.
For the third time, I pulled my knife from its scabbard.
Barely recognizing this woman, who looks so tattered.
To my great surprise, she doesn’t even ask me “why?”
Instead, with the hint of a smile, she whispers “Goodbye.”
Staggered by this response, I feel compelled to explain.
Though my words come out, absent of any pain.
“All that happens is God’s will; even the parts that are most scary.”
As I drew the blade across her throat, I whispered, “I love you, Mary.”