Will Vigar

a writer of sorts

Oil and Algae

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We tramped through narrow dew set paths

lined with gorse, it’s barbed wire limbs waving

warning trophies of rent clothing; a BMX,

abandoned in the no man’s land of briar

and bramble. Machinery lost to thorn. Oak bars

 

marked the path, submerged into mud and gravel;

cut and regular; moss coated, surrounded

by pennywort, yarrow and timothy.

With no incline, there seemed no need

for the reinforcement but following the path,

 

the gorse thinned and revealed a threnody

of tarmac and asphalt. The mystery beams

revealed themselves as sleepers, once attached

to a railway line that serviced the shipyard,

bringing steel and rivet to the pride of Scotland.

 

The track barely seen beneath pitch and aggregate

was not the victim of Beeching’s decimation

but – with the collapse of an industry – an attempt

at hiding the scale of the loss. Broken lines

and corroded fishplates stacked between derelict

 

pontoons – rusted and sheared – hinting

at a past of engineers, berths and precision.

The final ship refused to slip the tallow,

as if she knew she would be the last to leave.

Not even burning the fat moved her from the runners.

 

When she finally left, the dock gate closed

against the main, preventing the flow of fresh

sea water, leaving the pool stagnant and stinking.

An oily film, the only colour in a sepia landscape,

dazzles against the ochre algae in the thin March sun.

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