Beachcomber

Beachcomber
Monday I found a boot –
Rust and salt leather.
I gave it back to the sea, to dance in.

Tuesday a spar of timber worth thirty bob.
Next winter
It will be a chair, a coffin, a bed.

Wednesday a half can of Swedish spirits.
I tilted my head.
The shore was cold with mermaids and angels.

Thursday I got nothing, seaweed,
A whale bone,
Wet feet and a loud cough.

Friday I held a seaman’s skull,
Sand spilling from it
The way time is told on kirkyard stones.

Saturday a barrel of sodden oranges.
A Spanish ship
Was wrecked last month at The Kame.

Sunday, for fear of the elders,
I sit on my bum.
What’s heaven? A sea chest with a thousand gold coins. 
George Mackay Brown

from Fishermen with Ploughs (Hogarth Press, 1971), and included in The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown (John Murray, 2005)

Reproduced by permission of the Estate of George Mackay Brown
Orkney
George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown found his inspiration in the eternal cycle of life, and the 'ceremonies of fishing and agriculture' on Orkney. 

Read more about this poet