Walleah Press         Famous Reporter 36 (Feb 2008)



Poem—'Man Overboard'

Scanning the white-seamed water of the bay,
A vessel punches its grainy outline
Into the dark Derwent River horizon.

From the milky spume rises
My grandfather, Wilfred,
Naval stoker-turned-wharfie:
Face blackened with soot,
Hands rough as his unshaven jaw.

I think of all he survived,
And all he did not...

I think of that other sea that swallowed his soul
Amid stifled cries of "man overboard"
And spat out the shivering mess
That sat before me so many times as a child.

That other sea.
Surging, swelling,

I think of that slow, graceless decline,
His hand still waving for help
As he sank further into himself,
His lips pursed, gasping for breath,
His head bobbing above the water line.

Only fish and alcoholics
Can drown out of water.