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The Lifeboat

All night in his lifeboat my father sang
to keep the voices of the other men
who cried in the wreckage from reaching him,

he sang what he knew of the requiem,
of the hit parade and the bits of hymns,
he sang until he would never sing again,

scalding his raw throat with sea-water
until his ribs heaved, until the salt
wept from his eyes on dry land,

flecked at his lips in his squalling rages,
streaked the sheets in his night sweats
as night after night the reassembled ship

scattered its parts on the shore of his bed,
and the lifeboat eased him out again
to drown each night among singing men.

Inspired by a shipwreck endured by her father during the Second World War, and by his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and eventual suicide, Inheritance is a powerful poetic debut by the winner of the 2013 Boston ReviewFiction Contest and The Malahat Review Far Horizons Award.

Praise for Inheritance

“Powell’s poems are full of lively vignettes in which realism strikes lyrical sparks off harshness.”Times Literary Supplement

“[Powell’s] description is beautiful and tender…the land of elegy overlaps the land of dream.”The Fiddlehead

“Powerful … full of dark nostalgia.”—Nathan Englander

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