Behind the Mermaid’s warm smog breath,
he’s steam-bending oak,
caulking the seams
of bawley, cutter and skiff,
searching the Holehaven
with cockle-rake and glaive,
mud-larking for coins, glass,
a rhino tooth lost from Doggerland.
Where the Thames unravels,
loses its name to creek and turbine,
he’s fog-deep in mud,
his stash of driftwood,
his cross split lean
ready for the years to turn in its shadow,
telling me it’s nothing of a job,
hands twice the size of mine,
as we walked the lane put out to grass,
to a skylark climbing
the happy blues of summer.
Then on to the sea-bank,
a high-tide filling the distance,
bringing in kelp and feathers,
driftwood’s oak and elm,
that shadow in a breaking wave.
Ian Clarke. Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate. Published widely in anthologies and in magazines. A regular reader on the Yorkshire poetry scene. Latest book Owl Lit published by Dempsey and Windle (2017).