A fisher-boy's life - part four

A fisher-boy’s life (part four)

So many questions, that year forty five
world war two ending, my mother gone
with someone else, me a boy all alone
crying in secret in bed on ‘holiday’ exile;
‘Get him out the way,’ he’d heard her say,
blonde stranger to daddy that mixed-up day,
‘Send him down there to your ma and pa  
on Hastings front, he loves his fishing
and very soon he’ll stop his wishing
for mummy Marie to come back ‘ere;
 she can’t make up for leaving ‘im
- or you for that man, my Eddy, my dear.’
And thus the small boy learned to fear,
that grown up thing without a name,
(the lives it wrecks), learned hate, the state
of soon to be except the purely magic sea;
unchanging, moody, salty sea, its mystery,
the life that swims down deep, so free -
by the window the boy sits watching
dreaming of the fish he’ll be catching.

‘Why don’t you go across to the beach
for some prawns?’, my grandfather asks
‘It’s low tide now so take this drop-net.’
He ruffles my hair, shows how it is set:
‘You prise limpets off the rocks for bait
skewer them in the mesh, lower it deep,
deep down in a rock pool out of sight,
leave good time for them to get in
then hook it out quick with this stick;
quick! 'fore they flick out over the rim!’
Grandfather! So well I remember him,
and remember those juicy fat beauties
transparent, black pin eyed, jumping,
flip-flopping the bottom of the bag-net
and boys gathered around me to see
the how and the what my secret might be,
the scrambling to shore as the tide arose,
and falling, knee bleeding over my clothes
Grandma says it’s all right, Bryan, see,
we’ve got your prawns for our special tea.’
I see them plated, smell their sweet scent,
contentment arriving as passion is spent.

Bryan Islip
Part four of  ‘A fisher-boy’s life’ : May 2014

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