A fisher-boy's life - part six

A fisher-boy’s life (part six)

They moved in the Spring of forty seven
to Newmarket town from London city,
my father, new ‘mother’ - and big sister
Shirley (whilst on holiday, as was I,)
walking and watching the horses ride by
and that young girl at the swimming pool,
oh the churning, choking, wishing - for
something much stronger than fishing;
back in Hastings that summer with Jenny,
my cousin, our games in Bottle Alley
watching fishermen at the long pier end
casting bait, lead weight far into the sea
‘til one day grandfather gave me the key
to his locker in the Sea Angling Club:
sixpence for lug worms, well wrapped up
in last week’s newspaper, salt fish snack
long, fat, slow moving, shiny jet black.
That locker, some kind of Pandora’s Box
reel of hardwood, brass, a flaxen line,
heavy cane rod fit to lift a great cod
from waters that rose and fell far below
surging in foam round the legs of the pier;
the cod of my dreams I never did catch
just silvery whiting or flip-flopping plaice
- and really that was no way a disgrace,
bringing them home on the prom for tea
- I recall grandpa’s epic tale of the sea
towed in a dinghy for miles and no wonder,
he’d hooked a forty or fifty pound conger!

The man on the pier had no time for a boy
and his over-run casting, his tangles and
troubles: ‘Piss off, you're in my place,’
he grunted, though he had no special base.
You are not heard nor noticed, even seen,
when men are men and you thirteen;
but you can grow and listen, learn
to fish and maybe catch your fishy wish
and, leaning on the pier rail looking down,
can find comfort in the salt sea’s surge
and that sweet stink, grandfather’s locker,
and satisfy once more  your fishy urge.

Bryan Islip
Part six of  ‘A fisher-boy’s life’ : June 2014

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