• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 11

The Man on the Dock

Inspired by an image from Walthamstow Memories
in the Vestry House Museum

There’s always something haunting
about the brass color of sea, that tint
of uncertainty hidden in the waves.

Water softens the man’s voice—better
heard in the amphitheater hills overlooking
the bay, just as physics says it would.

Sound travels faster over water, but do
his words, even mixing with the salt, work
their way any quicker into their hearts?

Town officials on the hill simply sneer
at his words. They say nothing good
ever comes from his part of town. Yet

the well-dressed man continues to preach
his mission, to inform the crowds, to warn
them of the coming storm of lies

from adversaries. His close friends huddle
in the back of the boat, play a sweet surrender,
music for his words—all doubt about his power

strums away on strings—violins and violas—
and with the simple chants—voice, an instrument
of prayers.


The Man on the Dock

A few from the crowd venture to the ebb
of the gold-colored waves, buckets in hand,
hoping for more fish, for another miracle.

They are hungry for the plain, non-political
words. And he feeds them with many
nourishments, thoughts for the heart. This man

in the photo is no Christ, but soon
he will sail the sea with his companions
and there will be a storm

and he too will pray for the wind
and the seas to calm down.