Your Grandfather Would Have Wanted You to Have This
So raise a glass of the whisky that was sunk
that this bottled boat could draw a schoonerful
of model sea, to the man who modelled it :
who teased each wave from putty and oil paint
through the keyhole of the bottleneck, who spent
all winter in the dry-dock of the dining room
ship-building a spillikin keel with hair-pin ribs,
who flocked the bottle’s concave glass
with flake-of-salt-sized gulls, whose fingers
were made delicate by the tweezers and the button-hooks
it took to tat the rigging, gather-stitch the sails.
No champagne smashed at this ship’s launch
but in the cross-trees of its mizzen mast
see, aloft, the balsa wood ship’s boy
with his minute jeroboam ? In that bottle,
your grandpa said, the smallest tot of sea.
On that sea, a fleet.
from Hannah and the Monk (Salt, 2008), © Julia Bird 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher