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Sheila Wellehan

A Pipe Burst

Trauma is water.

You bear it easily

when it fills a pitcher.

You cope. You don’t jump

at the odd noise or the too-familiar voice.

But water keeps dripping from the faucet,

then it flows. Maybe a pipe burst.

Your drinking glass is a waterfall,

soaking your clothes.

The floor’s wet.

The basement floods.

Water rises, higher and higher.

Now it’s everywhere,

a powerful river—

You flail.

You try to swim, or just to float.

You can’t move.

You’re too afraid.

Because if you make the wrong choice,

you’ll drown.


Sheila Wellehan’s poetry is featured in On the Seawall, Rust + Moth, Thimble Literary Magazine, Tinderbox Literary Journal, Whale Road Review, and many other publications. She’s an assistant poetry editor for The Night Heron Barks and an associate editor for Ran Off With the Star Bassoon. Sheila lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. You can read her work at


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