Riverboat Divers

It was one of those days:

the sun hid the colour of the water from the banks,

the breeze moved, but drove not, as a curtain

around the feet of the divers.

On the cliff high they stood, and watched

with clenched jaws and narrow eyes

the approaching stern-wheeler, the giver of life,

and counted the speed, and slowing, and sheets

of spewm and froth that spread below like lacework fans.

The riverboat began to move to the side, a pondered

sashay toward the boys, a slow nudge of the hip towards

the wharf tucked away below, 

Too soon, and come up beneath the boat: 

no air, no movement, the drag to the wheel of life.

Too late, the Catherine wheel, the mill of gristle, bone and strife

or worse, crushed right in front of mum and the kids, out for the day.

Below, the pilot stared ahead, to keep the boat

on course, and true, aware that lives and games

were played with his steady eye and hand; a twinge, death.

The bodies dropped as suntanned streaks

and speared the browny stream beside the wharf,

then turned and shot beneath the flattened hull

that groaned as aft oak arms banged and turned,

and promised: the mill! the mill! swim on!

The wharf shuddered as the boat sidled in,

the mate leaned out and looked along the rail

and counted the browned boys as they bobbed up,


Copyright ©  Peter Twohig. All rights reserved.