Scuttlebutt - Gossip from the water barrel

dead man & the canoe (Portland Canal)

I was walking the line behind Port Dock Station
the old woolstores gave a strange vibration
strapped up with steel, wood beams and bricks
it was about a  time I almost missed  
when a world was dying, old ways of working being eclipsed

the path stretched before me smoothed by tyres and men and bikes
a smooth rubber track sweet and round without a crack
all the way up and back to Black Diamond Corner
would I ever feel that love again

down by the canal my brother and I went
just to build a canoe we needed timber that bent
we passed a man shuffling along the outer edge of the wharf

you could see the rickety pile hanging like a loose tooth by a thread
and when we came back that man was dead
the newsman said he'd mis-stepped and hit his head
they were dragging him out with a canvas hoop
as we walked on by we were worried about the loot

did that man face a lot of turmoil and strife
as I watched I wondered if he had a wife
you don't have to go too far to see death in life

S. Perry, 2013

Poem submitted by Curatorial Volunteer Jan Perry

Notes on the attached image of the Portland Canal: Rosewater Amateur Swimming Club can be seen, as can SA Implements (makers of farm machinery). This photograph was taken just before the canal was filled in so that a supermrket could be built there. It shows Mr McCormack being towed in his boat, by a person rowing a dinghy. Two children sit in the dinghy with the rower. Earlier, the canal had an extra arm that formed an 'L' shape near Commercial Road. Ketches used to moor up there.

Thanks to Neil McCormack and Norm Butcher 

Comments

I am the brother that Steve mentions in the poem. This was our playground; canal, railway tracks and freight trains taking wheat bags from the ketches in the canal. I was taught to swim in that canal by a blind man!It's a shopping centre now.

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