Night Lines

Night dark on Booterstown Avenue, a young boy
walking with the men, feeling manly,
down to a lonely moonlit sea
following ebb tide out on the flat strand
Dark tales told of the Cockle Lake, its sucking sand
Pat still tall and young like in the old photos
Old Ned, swarthy, unshaven, gap toothed,
a landlocked fisherman, and Young Ned with him.
We walked the water out to its turning
where the longline was staked before
greedy gulls steal the silver treasure.
Reap the harvest, sow the rag and lug
on the hundred hooks of longline.

And the long walk home, laden
with Ray, Bass, Flats, Flounders, Dabs
maybe a Lemon Sole, once a small shark.
Each man and boy happily burdened,
food for nothin’, the only price
hardwork and lack of sleep.

At home with the dawn breaking
an orgy of gutting cutting filleting.
Mae in number seven, Molly number eight
two cookers, six frying pans, flour,
dripping, splash and sizzle
as fish was cooked for all hands.
Hot tea, sliced loaf and hard butter,
fridges a fantasy.
Fish bundles wrapped in the Evening Press
for Maeve, Angela, Anna and Aggie Kelly,
thus was the silver bounty spread around The Cottages,
fast food indeed.
It’s taken nearly sixty years to make the memory
and another world to value it.

Martin Swords
Formerly 7 Pembroke Cottages Booterstown
March 2012