Dockyard Boy and the Gypsy Child
His boots keep time to his whistle. The skritch
of leather-on-stone cuts through a fast-fading
fog that shrouds her as she twirls, fey-footed,
skirts flaring to his tune. He picks at a snared
cable stitch on the sweater his gran knitted him
to block the ribbons of cold air in this March
wind. He will not step near her tinker's grove,
warned away by his foreman, friends, and family
but she follows him again this morning, wisp-thin,
willow-limbed child. Her people will be shifting
inland, away from this lapping of waves—this song
of a thousand thirsty wolfhounds desperate to drink
the sea. The shipyard boss sees him now, points him
toward those who scrape the boats: jabbing, filing
at barnacles demanding passage to larger worlds.
Further up the strand, she dips her hands to pull
seaweed to dry for journey-meals, shakes the salt
free, baskets them. She spits into water, swirls it
with a stick, watching him. From this distance, he won't
hear she has trapped his tune, takes it away with her.
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