The Canoeist – David Healey

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2011 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Second Prize

Adjudicator: Elaine Feinstein

This morning, I see him through my telescope
eating his lunch, taking a nap or just sitting
buoyant as a gull in the air against the wind
not bothered by any swell it would seem
and after finishing my shopping he’s still there
as if to avoid being cooped up in Morrisons,
a traffic jam or office should disaster strike.

Better to be behind a tsunami than face it,
to slalom round martello and church towers
than drown inside an Audi or B.M.W.
When the North Sea breaches our defences
he’ll be first to rescue those trapped upstairs,
pets and grannies, to deliver babies and help
those marooned on higher ground to survive.

He’ll have matches and a Swiss Army knife.
Who can say? A century or more from now
worshippers might stretch back to the A12
from the islands of Felixstowe and Trimley
just to touch the hem of his canoe, to feel
his frail ark, to be given strength to paddle,
correct a capsize and meet deadlines of tide.

Copyright © David Healey 2011




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