A whisper of wind, they embark
watch the fire’s tattoo of sparks
meagre possessions but too many
like their own rags of courage
burning fiercely into the night
that becomes their significant past.

They huddle on the damaged deck
fire fades to specks of disappearing light
no lifeline of support, no
ship’s whistle hooting an emigrants’ farewell.
What do they expect beyond this slow throb?
Peace? A drier heat? Pirates?

The pull of waves? A sporting nation?
Exile in a wise civilisation?
Or some miracle, some myth
a fair go
arising from this fog of dubious hope
hanging over that sea like a judgment?

Ian C. Smith