Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

Lumber - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

If I'd got to choose alone
One of all the freights I've known -
All my cargoes live and dead,
Bacon pigs and pigs of lead,
Cattle, copra, rice and rails,
Pilgrims, coolies, nitrates, nails,
Lima beans and China teas -
What do you think my pick would be?

If I'd got to name the best -
Take just one and leave the rest
Out of all the ports I've known -
Coral beaches white as bone,
All the hot lands and the cold,
Nights of stars and moons like gold,
Tropic smells and Spanish wine,
Whispering palm and singing pine,
All the isles of all the sea -
Where do you think I'd want to be?

Loading lumber long ago
In a ship I used to know,
With the bow-ports open wide
In her stained and rusted side,
And the saws a-screaming shrill
At the Steveston lumber-mill;
Where the Fraser floods and flows
Green and cold with melting snows,
And the tow-boats' wailing din,
As the booms come crawling in,
Fills the echoing creeks with sound,
And there's sawdust all around,
Deep and soft like drifted snow;
Nowhere much a man can go,
Nothing much to see or do,
Mouldiest burg you ever knew!

But I'd give the years between -
All I've done and all I've seen,
All the fooling and the fun,
All the chances lost and won,
All the good times and the bad,
All the memories sweet and sad,
Far and near, by shore and sea,
I would give them all to be
Loading lumber years ago
With the lads I used to know -

Loading lumber all day long
Stacks of scented deals among -
Loading lumber at the mill
Till the screaming saws were still,
And the rose-red sunset died
From the mountains and the tide,
And the night brought out its stars,
And the wind's song in the spars
Of that ship I used to know -
Loading lumber, long ago.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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