Slow Boat Poem (Manchester Ship Canal, 1984 by John Darwell)

Operating lock gates joining the Manchester Ship Canal to the Mersey estuary  (by John Darwell)

Operating lock gates joining the Manchester Ship Canal to the Mersey estuary (photograph by John Darwell, 1984)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Boat

I found myself

At the site

Of the house

They were building.

They wanted me to say that the odds they’d succeed

Were immense. And sure enough,

Flying buttresses, iron girders, wild horses

Couldn’t have stood on that lot.

I took a look at the quaking ground,

And dug a heel

Which made a hole

That filled with water.

I said: “You’d be better off on a raft”,

And they thanked me for that vision,

And set about building a house

On a concrete base as big as an ocean.

I watched the concrete arrive.

They poured it in the hole,

And while it set I had

Umpteen cups of tea.

Points to note:

Concrete is nine parts air and floats,

But the house stands still-

A sort of very slow boat.

First published

Yellow Crane 7, Autumn 96

In the 1950-60s, 3700 dockers handled over 16 million tonnes of cargo annually (photograph by John Darwell, 1984)

In the 1950-60s, 3700 dockers handled over 16 million tonnes of cargo annually (photograph by John Darwell, 1984)

Photographs reproduced by kind permission John Darwell.com

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