There’s a sheltered spot on the Starboard quarter,
where I stand with no other,
gazing out across the sea,
I watch the melting colours of the sky,
like a fire burning away the barrier,
between this world and the next,
I can’t often be still of late,
lingering in such beauty undeservedly,
which stirred youth before life gave way to adult pursuits.
Colours run into each other and the light falls fast,
shadows race in,
chasing the horizon,
fencing with the slowest rays to close the day.
Standing transfixed as the horizon blazes,
golden liquid pouring from the heavens,
utterly lost before the chill runs through me,
cocooned by the exhaust roar at my back,
the darkness wrapping her blanket around me,
intrusive pipes sound out,
proclaiming the passing of the world beneath my feet,
segmented, regimented, ordered day held at bay,
by deafening noise and the sunset.
Night, smothered now in the black,
the chill sinking deep to bring the shiver,
and as soon as I do,
that first shake,
starts to stir me, forced to come awake,
tearing me from standing isolation’s dream,
pushing me back beneath,
time to shower and to sleep,
Momentary relief fleeting away,
fallen night no longer to caress and hold me,
reality comes to swagger o’er me,
all comes flooding back,
when the night’s alarm will to all hands call.
The adrenaline shot direct into my heart,
sitting bolt upright in the red light,
feeling such guilt at the excitement,
knowing that out there in that black horizon,
where hours ago I was lost in rainbow colours,
there are drifting hulks with holds packed tight,
By Ruairí de Barra.
‘These words are not just my own experiences, they are also the stories & memories of my friends and colleagues. The crew of LÉ Eithne whom I was privileged to be part of, rescued nearly 3,600 people in 64 days in 2015. The Irish Naval Service since that first mission has rescued over 18,000 people. These poems are also the stories of the migrants and refugees, in particular, these are written in memory of those poor people who never made it. They lie along the trail of bones in the desert or were lost at sea. I write these words to say that I saw you and that none of us will forget you.”
Published in ‘Live Encounters’ March 2018. You can take read the three poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.
Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/
I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.