Tuesday, 31 August 2010



As I pulled the boat across a loppy sea –
The bumping and splashing boat,
With the sail flapping round my head,
And the pile of mackerel amidships ever growing larger and lovelier in the light –
And the sun rose behind the cliffs to eastward, and the sky became lemon-yellow
(A graciously coloured veil twixt the earth and all mystery beyond),
And the wavelets sparkled and darted like ten thousand fishes at play in the ambient dawn, –
It seemed that the sky and the sea and the earth gathered themselves together,
And became one vast kind eye, looking into the stern of the boat,
At the father and boy.

Navy blue guernsey, and trousers stained by the sea, scarce hiding the ribbed muscles;
Tan-red face, the fresh blood showing through;
Blue eyes all of a flash with fishing and the joy of hauling ’em in; now on the luff of the sail (out of habit. There being hardly a sail-full of air), now to wind’ard, and again smiling on the child;
Big pendulous russet hands, white in the palms from salt water, and splashed with scales –
Hands that seem implements rather, appearing strangely no part of the man, but something, like the child, that has grown away from him and has taken a life of its own –
Strong for a sixteen foot sweep, delicate to handle the silken snood of a line –
A man that the winds and spray have blown on, gnarled and bent to the sea’s own liking,
The Father!

From ‘A Poor Man’s House’ Stephen Reynolds, 1908.
Next Monday: Part 2. (The Child)

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