Died at sea. The pylorus blocked-stop-suddenly-stop-kingsline-stop
was latin we had never learned, was the ship that ran aground,
a killer, caught too late, that swam in him. The shark’s unblinking
eye and terrifying fin both shocking in the foaming depths.
Buried in Capetown. And all the kingsline stops pulled out, the snaps
in black and white, the grave, indifferent representatives on duty
in their kingsline funeral suits, compulsory. Grey wreaths,
a mourning shipmate and a black man with a spade. Hardly disconsolate.
As kids, in 1958, we hardly felt the space my sea-going grandfather’s
death had made. But rather fancied how they’d taken him ashore,
and how, with bloodied hands, they’d drawn the pirate’s cutlass
from his bleeding heart, how sixteen heaving oars had pushed the sea
behind, how a beaching keel had gashed and scarred the salt white shore
of Africa and how our mother’s father’s corpse was buried treasure
miles and miles away.
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