3rd May 11
and in the shop…
“Hand Luggage Only”
My dad asked, what’s this place then?
crushing white shells under his feet –
the old ferry car park reeked of fish.
Oare, I said. Awful, you mean,
he replied, always the joker.
But he saw mackerel skies, seals
and sailing boats; heard the cries
of fastidious waders picking their way
over sludge that swallows rubber boots
and men; we counted swans like pearls
in the barley, the seventeenth set apart,
scanning the Swale to the sea.
Beyond this slip of silver, freighters
enter Barrow Deep for Tilbury
never a place to linger, engines idling.
There are quieter ways to go.
Mrs Flynn wandered off, she lay down
where the mud was soft and closed her eyes.
Her family and her church missed her,
worried about winds over old bones.
Maybe she followed whispered voices,
felt them kinder than her silent room.
Freya listened to a harsher song,
hung about with children, her little tattoo
grew into a whole wingful of birds
before she left to plummet in the dark.
The city’s not sixty miles away,
could be hundreds more
if you’re early on the marshes
with the crow-pecked sheep
or breathing hops and apples
near a medieval town
where Londoners and gypsies settle
side by side and a joker died.