Wednesday, 29 January 2014


In the black yards of Thomastown, where the barber-shops and pot-scrub sellers open up, there the brine of long sea-days whitens all the window-panes. Down the end-on streets, the ships are bigger than the brick wall houses, huge towers in metal liveries.

The chimneys, the house-funnels, smoke and make a cloud on the rooftops. Lower than the high stratus, lower than the steamboat haze, the shilbottle reek falls in its occlusion as near the ground as air permits.

It falls like a fog upon the people, brazen, historic people, brought out of retirement or memory for us to revitalise in what now has made of us; more like a dream where interiors hold us in, familiar interiors which we could never describe in a waking word.

The director calls ‘Cut!’


All the rooms in the world,
The spaces we occupy
Come to this.

Streets are quiet
And the frozen clouds of dawn
Cannot move.
Air resistance holds them.

The sun keeps on rising,
Throws highlights on the undersides.

The earth steams with tomorrow
As time’s momentous arrival
Reveals the instant we call now.

In the sea towns along our coast
Dawn is born in water.
Into its sleepless brightening, small craft
Push purposefully toward it,
As if silver fishes were themselves
Flakes of light,
Scales of the sun’s skin
Scattered below the wavelets
For our nets to harvest.

In the onshore lanes and alleyways
Behind fish-houses and yards
Where the hulls lie hulked,
Masts and rigs
Hatch the skyline in a mass of lines.
Halyards, hawsers and stanchions,
Posts, poles and wires
Fill the openings between sheds and walls.

In the sky, as the sun shines from the sea
Each becomes a haloed stroke.
Shadows cast themselves upwards
Into the retreating night,
Into the sky where the long clouds roll
Turned red, upon themselves,
Insubstantial in their passing
As volatile as the stars.

For every day has its distance,
And every hour, its space between:
Each second so far from the next
We cannot dare to cross.

We sail impossible ships
On an unimaginable ocean
To find what fortune has left there
For our meagre hands.
© BH2013

Another instalment in the Initialising cycle. Begun with the title, which led me into my stock of fisher-town memories. Laced with time. As memories so often are.

As before, the cycle is here: