They didn’t want to be fishers of men
Women and children first hauled from the sea
And laid out on the deck like a prize catch
Gently by hands that are roughened by salt
Calloused but not callous softened by salt
Tears that fall from the blinking eyes of men
With their own women and children ashore
Where with warm feet firmly on the dry ground
We catch “chuck ‘em back in” on the air waves
Crashing hopes and dreams into a fine sand
Which next summer we will make castles from
And stand watching the fishing boats set sail
Disciples of cod not fishers of men.
Red hulls, blue skies, white cliffs. Gulls in the wake.
Christ! More people flock to a stranded whale
Than this half inflated greying carcass
A little ship of Dunkirk lifeboats then
But now no Newhaven, no safe harbour
From wars that are not finest hours but yours
You fight them on your beaches. This is our
Landing ground and we shall say that this was
Our coarsest hour.
This is a work in progress. So forgive the rawness and the rough-around-the-edges anger. But I wanted to post it while the inspiration is still fresh in our minds and on our news bulletins.
Since I wrote this draft the first victim of the mass drowning in the English Channel/La Manche off Calais has been named as Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, a 24 year old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq. She was texting her fiancé in Manchester as the flimsy boat carrying her and 28 others began to sink. All but two perished.