The Lifeguard by Jackie Biggs

A mother is gasping, crying,
choking salt water
at the end of her world.

A father fights the heaving sea,
small children grasp his arms
others cling to his legs,

his kicking limbs their only chance.
Hundreds of screams swell in waves
as three hundred people cling to a drowning hope.

Who do you choose?
Who do you save?
Who do you watch die?

The mother? The father?
Some of the little ones? A baby?
You decide, in the silence of your mind.

Lines of children on the shore
wait to be hung upside down,
to let the water out of tiny lungs.

The border agency boat stands off,
where the crew guard drowned children in the hold,
so many dead fish.

Day after day, boat after boat,
they still come
over the roughening seas

while Europe stands by
and watches.
And waits for the deluge to end.

And that lifeguard with his open arms,
and a deafening silence in his heart,
he says he is ashamed.

lifeguard2 Oscar


Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet, who lives in west Wales. She has had work published on websites and in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog:
Linked references for poem, The Lifeguard:
Source: El Mundo (in Spanish):
Background information: The Local (ES):
Proactiva Open Arms facebook page: Proactiva Open Arms

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