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COMING INTO HARBOUR

It has been days now,
With strangers in the house,
Their shadows
Changing on the walls,
The future fading, and the past
Seeking its conclusion.
He makes a joke, or questions
The progress of the world.
His frame is lighter now,
His girth diminished, his spine
Shortened by his age;
His voice is worn,
And words beyond speech
Trouble in his mind.
The shadows darken,
And his hands
Are quietened by fatigue.
He may recall
A trip to China,
A journey down to Spain,
Tramp ships awash with water,
Bread and beer,
And the wind,
Snatching at words,
Thickening his voice to thunder.
He may remember
A landscape twice a generation old,
Recall the old canals, the locks and barges,
Before the changes and the wars.
The sea sings in his skull.
Words baffle his ears.
The light is dull.
Coming into harbour,
With darkness within his eyes,
He holds her hand -
Loathe to leave her.
Contours form in the night,
And he imagines
Lights and voices distant on the sand,
And, curious,
He dreams of the rivermouth,
Sweet water and the shore,
And in the morning, the hills,
Bright in the marble sunlight.

Copyright © 2003 Hugh Cook

Picture of front cover of ARC OF LIGHT poetry collection by Hugh Cook.

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