Thirty years man and boy

I chatted to a trawlerman who’d done nothing else since leaving school. All he ever wanted to be was a fisherman.

Thirty years man and boy

For the sea creates sublime the mystery into which
A sprinkling of science and good knowledge of
Fish behaviour, patterns, historical trends and tides,
Like magicians, I am unable to divulge
The secrets at the heart of it lest less
Moral skippers may learn my methods;
Nonetheless let it be said that I often point my craft
Away from the fleet, tap into knowledge and
Then return with bigger loads; are you
Familiar with the methodology? And of course,
A hint of guesswork.

Thirty years man and boy, I’ve not done anything else,
Got my sea legs but even I spent the first six months
Spewing into a bucket, had to hide it,
Didn’t want the others to think I was soft or
Not cut out for this, but the sunrise over the
Eastern sea when you stare up the Channel that,
Oh, that can lift you and it lasts all day, a
Bright sun over a flat calm sea and you just know
It’s going to be a good haul.

In the dead of night in fluorescent glare I
Toil amid the flung sea spray salt lipped
In the inky boiling mass whose mystery is a
Locker that even the bravest dare not ponder,
Treacherous death washed with every foam-topped wave,
The craft itself rocking, you really don’t want
To think of the dynamics as the nets slung each side
Reach down ever so into oblivion, there are
Mechanics at work here that can be
Truly frightening, you just don’t want to think.

In a bed-warm slumbers my wife and kids and
While I envy their comfort, my toil makes it so,
Industry and sweat into eiderdown and a full fridge,
While those loving arms propel me forwards, further,
More exuberant, before beckoning me home that I
May regain my strength on the sofa surrounded by love.
What kind of amnesiac goes back?
But as I say, thirty years man and boy, and
The sea – oh, it runs through my veins.

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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