Standing on the Leith Docks


Now’s the day and now’s the hour;
and this December evening
the freshening wind brings
cabbage and a whiff of hashish,
the tinking of hawsers, a cook in a hatchway
shouting back at the TV in Urdu.

Now’s the day, this the moment;
Out in the dark the Discovery s running on the ebb.
Taking Scott to Trinidad, New Zealand and the Weddell sea.
They paid forty-five thousand pounds, took two years,
And the shipwrights of Dundee made a frame
Enough to hold ‘gainst three winters ice.
While the frame that God built
Lets Englishmen perish for their troubles
Half-a-day short, always half-a-day.

Now’s the time, this the point;
Just a word and I’d leave suitcase shoes and this girl sleeping besides
to barefoot the parallels of clever longitude,
live in rimey days, rub salt from my eyes.

Now’s the time and now’s the hour;
Day’s breaking thin across the firth,
The wind rolls suds up from the sea.
Next we’ll see Australia’s bays, turquoise and harsh
But in my pocket I’ve a small black stone
taken from the muddy shore to remind me.
Remind me of Scotland, and of the docks
And of the longing that’s there.



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