Saying Goodbye

Sailed out of Liverpool when I was small like the first acorn falling out of an oak
but never forgot those liver birds waving from the horizon long after we’d gone :
keeping us safe even though the ship behind us sank and there were depth charges
and our innocent ideas of women-and-children-first were stampeded into oblivion
by adults rushing past us up metal stairs which rang like thunder. When waves banged
against the sides of the ship as I lay in a metal bath and when we saw the nightmare room
hot as a volcano pipes and wheels and pistons turning like meat grinders and metal echoes
filling our ears : all that time I kept worrying about a building with liver birds and two clocks
and never finding anyone to say whether they kept the same time or whether one was tuned
to the North Atlantic and one to the moon. When we got to Bermuda they thought we were
enemy : I was on deck as they fired a cannon across our bows It was like 100 Liverpool
docks banging together mixed with smoke and cordite but they let us in so we came to a place
full of cedars with one of the strangest slave communities anywhere : and then we went on
to Jamaica with its mountains smoked blue as my mother’s eyes and men and women with
proud enquiring faces and liver birds circling over the sea so I never forgot my history

By Caroline Carver