The something special I promised for today was four poems from a whole collection themed around Titanic. I am grateful for Natalie getting in touch with me as I knew nothing about this book, and it looks so fascinating from these poems she shared with me. She gave me permission to use her book cover too.
“Natalie Scott’s debut collection of poetry, BERTH, brings together diverse voices, tapping into the psyche of those affected by the sinking of the Titanic. Ambitious in its scope, Berth seeks to unravel the myths that have emerged over the century since the tragedy. From the pathos of poems in the voices of the passengers who died, to the amusing reflections of the iceberg, dog and anchor, this collection commemorates those who were lost and celebrates those who survived the fateful early hours of 15 April 1912.”
(One of three made for Titanic – SAVED)
It took twenty horses
to lug me
through the shipyard
on the back of a cart
like a fifteen-and-a-half ton
My spitting image was weighed
on the other side of the bow:
two fat men in drag;
we felt as though no-one
bring us down.
Mr and Mrs Marvin
(First Class passengers: Mrs Mary – SAVED, Mr Daniel – LOST)
Mr: We’d been married just under three months;
Mrs: the very first wedding to be cinematographed;
Mr: we staged a second ceremony to capture it,
Mrs: then honeymooned for five gorgeous weeks.
Mr: When we stepped aboard the mighty Titanic,
Mrs: the luxurious film star fantasy was preserved;
Mr: everything was new and we had to try it all,
Mrs: until we had unintentionally sullied the room:
Mr: chipped a doorframe, broken a bone china cup,
Mrs: splashed little water droplets on the mirror,
Mr: lathered the soap till it frothed in its dish,
Mrs: wetted all the sweet white cotton towels,
Mr: stained the sheets practising rapture,
Mrs: our limbs stretched out like butterfly wings.
(Lookout in Crow’s Nest – SAVED)
It was a night of threes and other odd numbers.
We were missing a set of glasses but the naked
eye’s as good. One sea, like an oil slick pricked
with stars. No moon, no ripple. No swell.
Reggie’s irregular breath in the cold.
Clouds formed odd shapes in front of our faces;
seeing things that weren’t there. Threefold silence,
in bars, the rhythm of a waltz below:
One … two, three…
One … two, three…
One … black … mass
growing wide like a blind spot. Object directly ahead.
Three rings of the bell: ‘Iceberg right ahead!’
Trapped in the carriage of a white knuckle ride,
we waited in watery-eyed silence:
‘Turn… turn… turn’
cursing through our teeth,
my heart a tick-tocking
After triplets of seconds she swung to port
and we shaved a piece of ice as a souvenir.
‘That were close.’
(Stewardess – SAVED)
Women on ships are in a kind of sea desert;
parched from obscuring their feminine charms
to avoid groping hands behind closed doors.
They mourn dried out relationships;
lost loves remembered in rusted passing ships,
blowing hot kisses towards the smell of land.
So, how strangely quenching it was
that upon my rescue I should be the one
amongst the shivering human shapes
with a forgotten baby cradled to my breast,
warming a tiny pair of feet as, by the minute,
each of my ship’s illuminated lines went out.