“Ships In The Night”

Eastside   (after a field trip with Rosetta Art Centre to The Royal Docks. Autumn 2014)

Just still you were

And we found you

We smelt you

And sat down by your concrete bank

Overlooked by new-builds of towers

Perched on subterranean car parks

And noticed ships in bottles,

Trophies of the sea in front windows

Under nets.


A walk away through brown bushes

And scraggy pigeons

Not the sea gulls we expected

We held our noses by a lock

With its green wood and Keep Out signs

And open-mouthed

Wondered at its ancientness

What it meant to its new neighbours

Who pushed by with pushchairs

And Valium eyes

With sights on different horizons.


We reached the red brick bridge

By roads named after fishing ports

And placed the site

Of Harland and Wolff

Of a bygone monster

Of industry

And somehow saw workers in kerchiefs

With Woodbines balanced in toothless mouths.


A droning ship in the sky

Coursed into City Airport

A Scandinavian container lorry

Vibrated the metal under our feet

We looked again into the water

Saw no movement

No men, no boats, no shouts, no funnels

No cranes or moving parts

We touched the red brick as though kissing Madonna’s feet

And quietly slipped away.



*****************************************************************by Gillian Lawrence








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