Landscape with Heavy Industry and Washing Line

David Wheatley

populate me
animate sensitively
the spirit of dwelling
behind the big blue
harbour storage tanks

I would have
children in animal masks
appearing round lampposts
and knowing the names
of the boats coming in

I desire fishermen
come home to sand-floored
cottages distant factory
boats moored level with
the breakwater wall

my life has been
a series of sailors’ knots
tightened and loosed
stronger than floodtides
and briefly lingering

traceries across
my palm where the blood
knot and perfection loop
have slipped through
my fingers

I have hung out
the laundry in front
of the house on the Sabbath
and had it back through
the letterbox I have had it

with all but
the ship in a bottle
the scene becomes sooner
or later the heaped rigging
unfurled

with a yank
on a string and the whole
salty tale set down
and forgotten between
lace curtain and window.