The Descent of a Man

Through the driving rain and the metronome sound

Of the windscreen wipers and the static filled

Bored radio station hours, I drive.

The dark blanket of night covers everything,

The staccato yellow fluorescent road lights

Illuminate only the endless stretch of road ahead.

The road is unexceptional and easy,

It is quiet as only truckers use the motorways

At this time of the night.

I am running ahead of time, so I ease up

On the gas. I turn the heater on.

I am heading for the Ferry in Holyhead,

To head off for a new life.

It occurs to me the slight irony

Of the millions who left Ireland for

The same reasons as I am going to it.

The fading power of the Celtic Tiger,

And the offer of work is the only draw.

But as I drive she pulls at the fabric of

My mind. Appearing and disappearing.

Always seeming close but always out of reach.

In every corner of my self she rests.

Holyhead, next exit. Junction one.

Third exit on the roundabout,

Get in lane, indicate - though there

Is no one behind me.

Follow the signs that says: “P&O” and “Cars”.

Pull up, slowly, a guilty roll to the window

Of the security checkpoint office.

A woman in an unflattering uniform

And large yellow coat walks to the car door.

“You ok? Can I see your ticket?”

She asks in a dull Welsh drawl.

I hand it over, open the boot,

She looks in, closes the boot,

She wishes me a good night,

I smile or nod or say the same,

I park up near the gate and watch the rain.

I gently roll up the ramp and on board,

I park where the Orange suited Korean

Or Taiwanese men tell me to.

I apply the hand brake and lock the car.

I climb the steps and go to reception.

Behind the counter sit’s a rotund Dutch man,

Who gives me my cabin key,

Behind him is a picture of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands,

Smiling in that “Casual Royalty” way

Elizabeth II has never mastered.

A man to the left of me sees the picture:

“Hey mate, mate, who is tha’?”

He asks the counter clerk,

Who smiles and replies:

“It is our Queen”

This confuses the man,

“What she there for?

This is an English company.”

“But, a Dutch ship”

The man takes a moment to gather

This information,

“So an Dutch ship, working for an English

Company, sailing to Ireland from a Welsh ship?”


I leave.

I find my cabin,

Lock the door,

Two single beds,

Small window,

Small bin,

En suite and shower.

I close the curtains.

Against the outside world.

The noises of the engine

Rumble restlessly to life,

A safety announcement

Is ignored by everyone

On board.

I lay on the hard bed,

The quilts and covers

Feel like plasticised skin.

I fall asleep, not a deep sleep,

A dreamless sleep that

Comes from exhaustion mixed

With boredom.

I can still hear faintly

The sound of the engines

And the roll of the ocean waves.

I am awoken by

A loud bang,

And the vessel rolls violently

From side to side,

I am hurled of my bed,

And land hard on the

Cabin floor,

My head hitting

The bed side table.

Blood trickles from

A cut just below

My hair line.

I climb to my feet,

Uncertain and shaken,

I open the curtains

Of my cabin window

And can only see smoke

And the blackness of night.

The cabin lights,

Flicker and fail.

The dull white of

The emergency light

Shines vainly against the gloom.

The vessel rocks

Violently again,

As the sound of a distant

Explosion echoes in

The darkness.

I unlock the cabin door,

And gently pull it open.

Smoke bellows

From the corridor

And I slam the door shut.

Further explosions,

Without light,

Shake everything.

I put my back next to the

Warm cabin door and

Sink to the floor.

My head in my knees

I close my eyes.

The noise stops.

There is nothing

But silence.

The ship isn’t moving,

And the sea is still.

I open the door

Of my cabin,

Io notice the handle

And the door is cool.

The smoke has gone

And there is no

Sign of anyone else.

I go past the reception

And there is no one there,

The picture on the wall

Has fallen over.

And the computer screens


“Hello, is there any one there?”

I scream in to the void.

Nothing, not even an echo.

I walk onto the Deck,

And the boat is grounded.

But everything is dark.

The small light being

Emitted from the ship

Shows me the gravely grey

Surface of what I think is

A beach.

Beyond that nothing.

After an hour or so

I decided to walk get off

The ship.

I don’t mean to go too far

But I need to see if there

Is anyone else.


The End

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