i. the Brygstow sailor’s son | 1882
I sit on his knee eating corn. I’m eleven.
Breath polluted in Guinness. Imported.
He says: if you int gettin’ there quick boy,
you int gettin’ none at all,
and tells me the story of a bloke,
very first day on the job it were,
he trips, falls, dumps a whole barrel of the nectar
into the water when unloadin’ it. Hundreds of eyes glarin’.
The one moment every docker worked for
at the end of a workin’ week
drowned in murky water.
We sit on his boss’s barge. Beachley,
transports somethin’ called Gypsum, apparently.
Mum’s kicked him out again,
and he nicks me off out the door,
under his arm like a stowaway,
woken up in the inky darkness
for another midnight adventure.
This is the centre of the world, he tells me,
as we sit lookin’ out from a porthole
caught in-between the horizon.
Always has been, always will be.