The Great Chain at Seacombe Ferry

When the river dropped you could see it,
each link as big as my torso,
seaweedy, dripping, disappearing into the
Mersey’s muddy mouth,
whose depth its length revealed as I
dwelt on my inability to swim,
like all mariners, or mariners’ sons,
scared of so much water.

And I thought of that greater chain,
dredged by sweating slaves to stopper
the Golden Horn when strange sails
smattered the horizon.
What it kept out it also kept in, but Hardrada,
tired of the Varangian life, craved
green seas again, and a crown, but his
stolen ship stuck on the chain, teetered—
at the stern swung a sword
slippery with his blood in a gawping square,
at the prow the Black Sea, Kievan Rus, home,
a throne, descent on England, so
he and his men thrust down with their weight
and rushed towards Stamford Bridge,
scraping off the chain and onto the
heft of a Saxon axe.

My mobile murmured a message,
“My sweet, come home. M” as a
ferry bumped the pier, its wash a mix of
Mersey filth, brown Bosphorus, North Sea, whilst I

shivered, like you when I kiss your
neck with its gold chain,
each link as big as my heart,
in length its depth revealed.

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  • knittingknots  On March 21, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Oh, good richness of language…You understand the music of the sounds! I love the interweaving of assonance and consonance with the imagery.

  • jackiedick  On May 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    vedy veddy anglo-saxon and very emblematic of historical seafaring and the bloody conquests of ancient thrones…you take us back in a colorful and masterful way with imagry and textures..and then that interruption of modern communication on the ferry a stark reminder of your life in the here and now…powerful language, I could see the muddy waters, the bloody axe, the gold chain of your love on her neck. Bravo!

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