In muddy mouthed Portsea Creek unwatched
forgotten ships lay beached and breathless,
dashed and smashed cut and bled, weather
beaten, picked and broken by the dockside
stooping crane’s bill collecting scrap.
Their final journeys over shallows dragging
barnacle crusted bottoms over shingle
groaned past the red flagged gunnery range,
pulled and pushed by impatient tugs, aware
falling tides and sucking mud claim victims.
Robbed by landsman, written out of registers,
church empty bridges balefully glistening glare
untold stories of once purposed lives, men
who swore repeatedly like lovers on heat,
trumpeting the union of engine and steel.
Now their ghosts can be heard in the small
of the night blowing base horns, heaving
anchors, turning their screws seaward,
reliving purpose, blending rusted hulls
to the sea and the never ending sky.