Canada Water

Great hulks of ships line the wharf.

They speak in groans and creeks,

The sky is full of masts and yards, sails furled

Gently swinging in the wind.

The tide sucks at their side lapping and lushing,

Hushing and washing the wooden hulls,

Brisk with activity as men haul jigs rigged

Barrels role and bales tumble, all this is river life,

Upon Canada Water.


I see patterns in the water the shadows of ships,

The thoughts of ships, the groans and moans of men

Slaving for every penny they can make,

And the coins few in hand not long

As they walk home. All is commerce

Of tea, wool, grain, hides and silks we cannot see,

But smell the spice as its boxes shake with pure delight,

The wharf of Canada Water.


Now I stand watching the river wide,

A mallard with six chicks battles the tide

And wishes to be safe as they did all those years ago;

But now great buildings rise stately and strange,

With many coloured eyes gazing down,

Into the thick black water glowing with sunlight;

Far from the masts and spars and wooden hulls of olden days.

My grandfather sold cordage. I think of change as I stand by

Rope Street on Canada Water.


Caroline Baldock©2016  July