Originally published in Aesthetica, Issue 9.
Cradling the boat in his callused hands,
His mind flits back to happier times,
Before the shadow of death fell on his son
And he plunged to the bottom of a pit of despair.
Crude and simple, he treasures the boat
Not for its lines or inspiration,
Not for the hours he put into its making,
But for the memories its presence invokes
One day, in the rose-tinted depths
Of a faded photograph past,
His son had inspired him to start the project
With his questions about a picture-book galleon.
Together they had laboured for hours at a time,
Bent over his lathe and a selection of saws,
Channelling their energy into hauling the vision
From wispy imagination to crisp reality.
It had all begun in a hardware store,
With grubby aisles and grubbier staff,
Where planks of timber lay higgledy-piggledy
Like precarious stacks of giant matchsticks.
His son had hung on his every word,
As he carefully explained how to select the wood.
It wouldn't do to have chosen materials
That were rotting inside, like he is now.
Smoothing the surfaces had seemed laborious,
But he would give the world to be beginning again,
To feel the vibrations of his skimming plane,
Spurred on by a voice that is gone forever.
Slowly, the boat had started to take shape,
With the boy urging him to strive for perfection.
Each refinement was a lesson in relations,
Each addition brought them into closer harmony.
He cradles the boat in his trembling hands,
As it carries him along the river of memory.
The way seems harder on every trip,
As though his bitter tears add to the torrent.
The right of C. J. Carter-Stephenson to be identified as the writer of this poem has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author, or a license permitting restricted copying.