Lost at Cadiz – André Mangeot

2016 Crabbe Poetry Competition – Third Prize
Adjudicator: Moniza Alvi

Lost at Cadiz

The last time then, edging with a tray into your dark:
the bed and chair, this cell your voyaging has come to.
Bread, porridge,tea ­ same condemned man’s breakfast
every day ­ for how long now? Two years? Three?
And now it’s D-­Day for us both. Hello Ted ­–
letting in the useless light. Manage any sleep?
I set the pillows, ease you up, your navigator’s eyes
still bloodshot, cloudy, struggling for a fix on me.

More night­time wounds. Table, lampstand overturned.
Scab and scar and bruise ­ a brow­cut, fresh. Back in
combat, eh? (Groping, compass haywire through
the foggy hours, floor rolling like Atlantic swell,
you’re undermined by neurones now). Aye … you hear
that thunder, son? Flashes like them guns again …
fair shook the bed. Tea pitching in the mug, you wash
the tablets down ­– though even when trembling calms

you won’t be sailing far, not once sickness, lethargy
kick in ­ wave on wave of Sinemet and Madopar.
The tuning on the radio’s slipped: the shipping news
arrives, recedes. I flush the dregs of night away:
lay out fresh clothes; steer you, groggy to a basin
where you fasten on the taps (your gunwale, haven)
while the water runs. The discipline’s sustained us
for this long –­ but though I’m ready for tomorrow

(new job, new town, the moving on) today we know
its other purpose. Recall together, as you dress,
the first time that I searched in vain (and then your
explanation, still unchanged) for that elusive vest.
Lord no, you’ll not find that! Las’ one I ‘ad
were on that same damn sweeper. Shot to hell
it was. Torpedoes … bombs. This’d be ­ by ‘eck
let’s think ­– forty­two or three, somewheres off Cadiz …

sinking finally into your chair. Right raw today,
or is it me?
I find the rug, fit it snug around your knees
then softly back towards the door ­ determined to escape
an exit­line. But you’ve seen it coming. Seen through me.
Go careful, son. And don’t be minding … I’ll be grand.
Your stare consumes the shadow where I stand. Goodbye Ted.
Be good. And no more wandering alone. I close the door,
seeing still your eyes ­ and all those broken, burning vessels.

André Mangeot




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