Weak showers of light
Drip through the thick foliage.
Knotted mangrove-roots are grey.

One-day campsters have all left;
Wind blows
Cast-off papers, toffee-wrappers.
Dust shifts into the shed.
Where laughter swayed
The salt hums its song.

By the wishing-well
Shadows crowd.
Murmurs of an hour ago
Have left their voices.
Branches bend and leaf-whispers
Resolve into the foam-lips of the waves.

We leave
On a rock the foamy crab
Shifts its clumsy shell but stops,
Stilled by an unthought symphony,
Wild magic,
As ripples lick the shore.

Blue waters, I mutter,
Blue waters:
A stray drop of sand
In a mangrove pattern.

A bitter ballad:
little boy smoking cigarette
(come blow up your horn
the sheep in the meadow
the cows in the corn)
little boy jabbering old man’s language
presents an awkward slum-sight.
He puffs lustily,
ignorant,
burning his body away.

Here is a picture you can paint:
little boy smoking
mixing-making images from gutter-clay.

Bits of anger, evil smelling curses,
the father boxes his years.

Old man cries over
fragment bowl.
His son can only have
the symptoms of a man…


By Edwin Thumboo

Published 1956