Mantz Yorke

The Boat, Staithes, Yorkshire

Out of the grizzly sea’s immediate reach
the boat seems disproportionate
against the harbour wall, as if too gross
for the tiny port. Stretched overthin,
the tide – mere puddles on the shaly flat –
lets me crunch a track across mussel-beds
and snails towards the silhouettes collecting,
insect-like, around its bulk. Closer to,
the hull, dully striped along its planks
in red, white and blue, shows distant foam
beneath the concave keel, and a cooker lies
face-down on blackish wrack: only now I see
scattered on this placid-looking shore
the unshattered screen, mechanic’s oil-can
and splintered piece of mast, and understand

the random strew of plastic film I’d seen
between the nabs. Folk compose their smiles
before this hulk, ignoring the excited kids
scrabbling among the ruptured bilges’
miscellany of crabs and headless fish, the sketcher
on his folding chair, and the dog scampering,
claw in mouth, about their legs. Standing off,
my zoom lens frames a photograph: the wreck
whose blood surrounds an archipelago of weed,
and lacy waves rearing up and toppling
on a hidden reef. Beyond crumbling cliffs
a fisherman is trundling salvage to the quay:
as I catch him and his barrowload of bits
he glances towards my camera, and spits.