David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

Jackdaw


The bones of a Barquentine still lie
On the reef at Shipwreck Cove,
You can see the spars at the lowest tide
Where it sank with its treasure trove,
The gale that brought it ashore comes once
In a hundred years, they say,
It dragged the anchors and shredded the sails
And the crew all died that day.

But not before the terrible sea
Had ripped each man apart,
Some lost their heads, their arms and legs
And it tore out one man’s heart,
The waves had battered them over the reef
And onto the rock strewn shore,
But in the whirl was a slip of a girl
By the name of Eleanor Daw.

Her hair was matted, her skin was torn
There was one deep gash on her head,
They couldn’t believe that she’d survived
With the torrents of blood she’d bled,
Her pulse was faint but her heart still beat
And she roused as they carried her back,
She cried but a single name that day,
The name of her husband, Jack.

But Jack had gone where the lost will go
Was swept to eternal rest,
Down with the sea anemone
The flesh peeled off from his breast,
His hand torn off with his wedding ring
Was swept along with the tide,
A glint of a tiny, shining thing
With no thought of his former bride.

But Eleanor Daw had walked the shore
For a year, long after he died,
His body was never recovered so she
Still kept him alive, inside,
She wore the black of a mourning gown
And a veil that covered her face,
Whenever the winter storms blew in
She’d look for the merest trace.

The hand that carried the wedding ring
Had gradually come apart,
The fingers went on their different ways
But one stayed close to her heart,
A storm had cast it up on the beach
Where it glinted there in the sun,
And a bird swooped down on the shiny thing
Took the ring and the bones as one.

It had lined its nest with wayward coins
That lay half hidden in sand,
Now took the ring and the finger too
To join its contraband,
But the finger wouldn’t give up the ring
And the nest was almost complete,
So it flew again where the widow went
And it dropped the ring at her feet.

Eleanor stooped to pick it up
And the bird hopped onto her arm,
They walked together along the beach
As she held the ring in her palm,
Now every day you will see them walk
The bird, and Eleanor Daw,
And if you stop her, she’ll meet and greet:
‘My husband and I, Jack Daw! ’

2 June 2013

Submitted: Saturday, June 01, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, September 04, 2013

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