Sunday, 25 July 2010


The man who was a Jonah
I remember him well,
how like a crab he would scuttle sideways
so as not to see his neighbours.

He had put his jinx,
this Jonah,
on whatever boat he had been in
before the village got wise,
before it smelled a rat.

The calamities were rehearsed
that this Jonah had inflicted:
one boat touching bottom where none should have been;
another, against an ill wind from an unlikely quarter,
making no way;
a third, snagging nets where moots never were known

and hardly a boat ever,
with this Jonah,
had taken fish worth taking:

sick salmon, stunted bass,
horse mackerel, green crabs,
catches, if any,
slight like the sharings.

Bad luck clung to this Jonah like his own crumped shadow
and who would want to cumber a good boat with bad luck?

And all of this, all of thirty years before ever I knew him,
thirty years of crabwise scuttling

not that anyone had forgotten.

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