Deck Boy

The sun skims
the glass-flat basin
as he breasts the brimming lock
6000 tons of throbbing steel
beneath his feet.
Slit-eyed he watches
the lock gate tilt and sink
quiet as a crocodile,
hawsers loop and drop
and fluffing the air with steam
the capstans rattle and wheeze.

“Slow ahead.”
He swings the brass handles,
bells jangle in the sun,
the old steam engines
gasp into life,
wash rises astern
and gentle as smoke
he slips onto the lake,
black snail across
a shimmering silver plate.

“Half astern port.”
At the wheel’s hub
derricks and cranes
and the stainless sun
all painted on water,
pointing to the boy
high on the bridge
clutching the golden levers
at the centre of the world,


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