The Cunarders



Crammed among a thousand greeters, high on my father’s shoulders,
watching the tugs manoeuvre the giant alongside Prince’s Landing Stage,
waving my hankie screaming at shouts “Eez der Mam”
laughing at “Mam ders ar kid”until Mam clonked him round the head.

My aunts stood soberly, bouquets of flowers big as lions’ manes,
then they spied him, excitement won, hankies waved
“Altogether, Jo-o-hn”

Sirens screeched welcome, Police cried “Stand back”
Nobody did. Everyone crushed - craned to be the first to see
Bert and Martha, Mavis or Sean, home from lush bustle Canada
to war bombed Liverpool; laden with gifts, our first sight of
Biros, American comics, and unrationed sweets!

Soon the parties, the trips, the afternoon teas,
done, finished; six weeks of tales told,
adventures retold, sweets depleted.

Crammed atop the Dockers’s Umbrella, the Aunts
awash with tears and hugs, extracting promises to write,
to send parcels of treats, enough for the fleet.

Then down to Gladstone Dock, down to the last kiss
the last goodbye. Police cried “Stand back”
Nobody did. Everyone crushed - craned to be the last
to see Bert and Martha, Mavis or Sean.

High on my father’s shoulders, I watched the tugs
manoeuvre the giant out to the Mersey bar.
Hankies waved, sirens screeched goodbye.

The Aunts stood soberly, weeping to the handkerchiefs.
Then they spied him, sadness won, hankies waved together

“Jo-o-hn -

Goodbye, Jo-o-hn,

Good - bye”.

By Norma E Jones