The Wreck of the Royal Iris
Alas, the Royal Iris, the old ferry boat’s gone.
A seagull’s cry shears the sky.
Something to sadden a sailor
or anyone, like me, who remembers a time long gone by.
They left it to rot, down south,
on the banks of the Thames,
to lean to one side, a relic
Charles Dickens might have lifted his pen
to take as one of his chance inspirations
for some descriptive work,
maybe in Great Expectations.
The wreck of the Royal Iris,
they left to shadow and dust,
ink black, burnt brown bread,
dark orange yellow rust
that ate its engine and crust.
Cold air they let bend back its hull,
allowed jagged edged holes to appear,
left its ropes to mould with no strength to pull.
I studied its newspaper photograph,
smiled in my mind,
to remember a time, simpler, more kind.
When I was a schoolboy and I stood on the shore,
among seaweed and shells,
and I watched the Royal Iris go,
cut its way through the grey Irish Sea,
out from Liverpool Bay.
Not one of the big ships, not that impressive to see,
but magical, lit up with lights,
as the sun dipped in the west,
and I had all my life before me.
In ways, that time was the best.