Cicely Fox Smith
High Noon - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
It's rummy, the way things come back to you . . . Down by the Docks
I'd stopped at a junk store, all rusty old hinges and locks,
Old shoes, and false teeth, and odd chessmen, and broken-up innards of clocks.
And, chucked in a heap with a lot of such litter, there lay
A badly stuffed flying-fish, dingy and dusty and grey,
That had gleamed like a rainbow long since it flitted through sunshine and spray.
And, Lord! How it brought it all back to me! Clear as could be,
High noon in the Tropics - the ship running free,
And the blue old Pacific a-shining as far as a fellow could see . . .
The sway of the masts and the slow dip and lift of the rail:
The mate with his eye cocked aloft at the set of the sail,
And the bosun, the ugly old image, his mouth opened wide in a hail:
Old Sails with his palm and his needle, cross-legged on the hatch,
A-stitching away at a bolt-rope, or putting a patch
In a fair-weather topsail, and spinning his endless old yarns with the watch:
Old Slush at the door of his galley: and Chips with his chest:
The barefooted man at the wheel in his trousers and vest,
The flash of the rings in his ears and the sea-snake tattooed on his breast.
High noon in the Tropics - the white and the gold and the blue,
The glitter of flying-fish scattering spray as they flew,
The songs that we sang and the tales that we told and the shipmates we knew!
Then it passed like a dream: I was back here in Poplar again
With my collar turned up to my ears in the cold and the rain,
And the ships as they groped through the river mist wailing like creatures in pain.
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