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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Ken Jones

Ships That Pass in the Night

Slack water
between rip tides
the buoy
briefly upright

A waking dream. "As beasts crying sadly from hill to hill." Some German philosopher, on the lowing of fog horns. At the foot of her bed, the picture window frames the oil terminal and a procession of moon-lit tankers. Engines throb, and hundreds of tiny lights sparkle on the Haven. And all night long that rusty dredger clanks and groans.

Into the depths
a hanging chain
and the screams of gulls

Still she sleeps, with a slight snore. The sex was considerate rather than passionate. But, oh yes, the velveteen mousetrap. "You're the first man I've slept with who hasn't got a marine pilot's licence." It can get lonely bringing up three kids on your own. She found my small ad. in The New Statesman & Nation.: music, walking and existential philosophy. Plucky, that -- makes me feel quite fond of her. I might have been a sex maniac or something. In fact, we're both Bruckner fans.

A mutual mistake, mutually honoured. I'll fetch her breakfast in bed and later fix a few things about the house. Mustn't overstay my welcome.

Ebb tide
on each new sandbank
a solitary gull

Ships that pass in the night. They sound their sirens one to one. "Green to green and red to red, perfect safety go ahead."

In the sky above the marshes are the first streaks of the new day.

Punt gun
and decoy pond
and the beat of wild ducks' wings