Thursday, 10 November 2016


Time out to Play


An elderly man with his slight stoop,
his brown corduroys, his checked
blue swandri, a towel around his neck
would not excite anyone’s interest
- nor would the bright red backpack
or the carton, string-tied, under his arm;

except he’s so intent to appear casual
and look like a regular boating man
- walking down the busy Mainland wharf
he reminds one of a Red Setter dog
with all muscles a-quiver when
it’s scented game – alerting
the ferry queue to turn and watch

as he hesitates and shades his eyes
then turns too quickly at a holler
from an old-time skipper
on an old-time launch
tied up to the left of the wharf.

His walk goes into slow-motion – cool,
he’s so cool, as he shrugs his backpack
to ease his shoulders and then resettles
the carton under his arm - but look, see
how he’s now walking up on his toes.

But he gives only the most casual, ‘hi,
weather looks good,’ as he hands over
the carton, then the backpack, before
climbing sprightly onto the deck
and immediately starts untying ropes
as the diesel coughs and chugs into life.

A couple of Islanders leave the queue
and wander over to observe
how his hands fumble as he unties
and then forgets to coil the ropes.

Two old codgers standing side by side
as the launch moves down the channel,
- one thinking that he can’t be seen
is happily patting the cabin-top
to an unheard tune and grinning widely
with his face upturned like a kid
to feel the Souwesterly wind.

“Doesn’t look like that poor bugger
is let out to play very often,” says
an Islander. The others sigh and
then nod in agreement.

Copyright: Lois E Hunter

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