Monday I found a boot –
Rust and salt leather.
I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.
Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob.
It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.
Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits.
I tilted my head.
The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.
Thursday I got nothing, seaweed,
A whale bone,
Wet feet and a loud cough.
Friday I held a seaman’s skull,
Sand spilling from it
The way time is told on kirkyard stones.
Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges.
A Spanish ship
Was wrecked last month at The Kame.
Sunday, for fear of the elders,
I sit on my bum.
What’s heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins.
If you have ever been to Stromness you will recognise this scene instantly. And if you were there before 1996, you might well have passed George (that’s him) as you walked along that little road. He was a novelist as well as a poet (you can find my reviews of two of his novels VINLAND and MAGNUS on this site) but his masterpieces, at least in my opinion, are his short stories. I’ll do a review of one of the collections sometime soon.