Older Poems (#3)

Setting Sail

Sports on deck
quoits and rounders,
to prepare you for English life,
holidays at Brighton
on pebbled beaches

and there
next to you
smoking his pipe,
his boater shading the
familiar sun,
stood Grandad
leading you
to your new home.

Columbus sailed this sea,
thinking he was in Japan,
thinking he was in Cathay,
thinking he was anywhere
but here.

And in the sea
you saw the sky,
intense, endless blue
ripples of cloud
skimming the water’s surface,
the sea, where in 1494, mermaids sang
and led sailors astray.

Staff Sergeant Butcher
posted back to London
left Jamaica with you that day,
the year 1930,
the year you married
at the Scots Church in Kingston,
the year before my mother was born
in London, England
and your mother was already in her grave.


Published in Mascara Literary Review. Issue 3, March 2008