The Waterfront

I watch all night.

To see the moon dance on oil,

The shadows grow and twist,

The little boats tip and yaw.

Sometimes there are footsteps –

Quiet and reasoned – on the planks,

Hands cupped and faces turned.

Sometimes you think that all life is here;

Men and women and creatures, poised

Under the blackness of the rolling tide.

Here, there are moaning horns and the rattle of diesel,

The slow slap of a yearning sea caught, now

In the harbour’s restraining arms.

It is only here, when night is at its darkest,

That you know deals are done and restless men

Roll and twist in their pressed-in bunks.

This is where the seabirds wait,

Dancers on one leg, to see the colour of the day,

Where there is every sound – the grinding of steel, the snap of rope – and there is no sound;

When it is just blackness and salt, a vastness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Waterfront

  1. i love this John.
    These lines, in particular, evoke some nameless condition – like Joseph Conrad:

    you know deals are done and restless men

    Roll and twist in their pressed-in bunks.

  2. Hello John! I like the atmosphere you take us into here. The movement – I can see it, hear it, feel it… and then it vanishes into the sea – very effective 🙂

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