Delighted to report that myself and 79 other poets have been anthologised in this timely offering put together by Merryn Williams and now available from Shoestring Press. It deals with the pandemic and lockdown. You might think that would make it a bit samey. Not a bit: I was amazed at the plethora of approaches and images that occurred to people during that year.
My own contribution is ‘Sea Park, Weymouth’. For some reason nobody else thought to write about this phenomenon, despite the fact that cruise ships have been abandoned in bays all along the south coast. See what you think:
Sea Park, Weymouth
Our bay is home to several floating wedding cakes these days.
Nobody wants to cruise the world just now, in Covid times.
These are plague ships: people took sick on them and died
early on in the pandemic – floating hotels become death traps,
denied access to ports. So it continues. Skeleton crews
are trapped aboard, like Davy Jones, condemned to sail the world,
their hearts ashore: themselves in purdah.
All day the ships lie sullen in our mighty bay. Sometimes they sound
a mournful klaxon of farewell, and head into the Channel
on their way to Falmouth, Teignmouth or Southampton.
It’s only busy work, to keep their engines ticking over.
Then back they come to stand again aloof out in the bay,
noses in air, high out of the water (being empty of all but ghosts).
Local pleasure boats run tours around the towering hulls.
The skippers do their homework: pointing out the mighty liner
Queen Elizabeth. Like her maids-in-waiting are moored besides
Britannia; Allure, Jewel, Explorer and Anthem of the Seas –
four seasick sisters with nothing now to do but gossip with each other.
Marella lifts her anchor and heads west, but she’ll be back tomorrow.
She’s gone to join Queen Mary in Torbay. Just a walk to stretch her legs.
Each ship wears a little pall of smog: a diesel exhalation
that in high pressure weather we can taste deep in our throats.
Their klaxons remind me of fog horns used on thick nights in my youth
decades before satnav, and other modern aids to navigation.
At night their lights blaze out across the bay, reminding us
of their presence in our lives. They are a fixture. Here for the duration.
We have grown fond of them. Or tolerant at least.
I count them every evening as their lights come on out in the bay.
Then looking down I find that this has been, for me, another PJ day.