Cargo

A boy slips through a break in the chain link
down to the creek where the silt unfolds,
recumbent, slick-skinned, more than ready
for its thick veined estuary to come home.
He picks across the flats with his school bag
trailing herring gulls and something eggy.

He’s collecting the pocks, flecks and shards
from this mud-welted margin of the past:
pot handles, a buckle, a marble eye,
coins faint with kings, queens and tridents,
a long white bone worn flute smooth,
a medal celebrating motherhood.

It’s all been lockered fast under his bed
which sails every night down the high street
along rivers planted with humankind
who branch up tattered as scarecrows
begging that you hear their history
before they wash to weeds on the waking tide.

He’s late for class because his feet have stuck
so he waits for the waters to free them
as dockyard cranes make equations in the sky.
A bright red container hangs from cables
dense with bar codes and fast machines
selling happiness, flat-packed from far away .

Commended in the 2016 Wild Atlantic Words Competition 

 

 

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