Maryport Harbour November 2108

In Barbados, another twelve slaves

were purchased for two hundred pounds

to make the land give up, or as they say, yield

and nurture the sun-catcher sugar grass,

light energy spun into gold for the Maryport men

to send home. Build up the banks

of the Ellen. Put ships in the dock.

 

Safe haven for bringing in iron ore, tipped

off into trains that slid down to Workington,

the Solway to the west, a tame slip of sea

the colour of sand, breaking on the blue beaches,

the red rocks, the black sea-coal stones.

From the harbour went iron for the Empire

fresh metal for ploughs, rifles, buildings. For bombs.

 

And the fishing boats headed for Iceland

to trawl the live sea. Maryport sent its children

schooled in standing up for themselves, to the wars

that made their home harbour redundant,

that emptied the berths. Now the ropes

are grown over like larch twigs with lichen,

rust runs down the capstans. No shoals in the sea.

The new leisure centre rings hollow.

In the play park a wooden wrecked boat

barely amuses the child. The halyards tap morse

on the yacht masts as they wait for the tide.

 

There is something in the redshank’s urgent call.

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