Wednesday, 7 October 2015


 Maureen Clifford © The #Scribbly Bark Poet

Bread and butter cucumbers pickled in vinegar
placed by the sliced cob loaf ready for tea.
A vase of Queen Anne’s lace with white, creamy blossoms
dropped petals, like coffee foam, floral debris.
And two purple pumps cast aside with abandon,
rested by the sofa along with a glass
of Chablis, the glass stained with lip gloss on crystal.
A ship in a bottle - had cannons of brass.

On the desk near the window computer screen flickered
its blue mouse light flashing.  The screen saver screen
showed slide shows of Sydney and  places and people .
Departed old ghosts captured in the machine.
And one was a sailor a good looking fellow
from the age of sail – a time she’d never seen.
Was it he who set up the ship in the bottle
and polished its brass to a lustrous sheen?

Outside on the harbour were white sails a skudding
across choppy waters beneath azure sky,
dodging ferry boats plying their trade ‘cross the waters
and heard overall was the harsh seagulls cry.
And her little stone cottage there in ‘The Rocks’ Sydney,
held memories of family from long years ago,
one a boatman from the time when Sydney was settled
when convicts in chains walked the wharves down below.

When whalers – Brittania and Ocean and Speedy
were regular visitors to Sydney’s shore,
and Jervis Bay people who’d come to the settlement
were killed by some sailors in 1804.
She’d no way of knowing was her sailor one
who had taken a life of a native for sure,
but knew he had talent and was quite an artist
for inside the home was a piece of scrimshaw.

On cold windy nights when the halyards are slapping
the masts of moored yachts in syncopated sound
she finds herself wondering about her sailor
this relative who had sailed all the world round.
Imagines him carving the whale tooth she holds
in her hand, sees him sat by this window of glass
with its rough bumps and ridges, as he puts together,
a bottle, and ship, with bright cannons of brass.

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