Sailing Barges off Southend
Drifting on a tide from long ago,
They swing at anchor silently
Wreathed in early morning mist,
Like ghosts grown mellow with antiquity.
With names like Gladys, Will and Edith May
Heroic legends motionless on ancient bows,
They are waiting for the breeze, patiently
Submissive to the whims of air and ebb.
Later, with windlass rattling as anchors are weighed,
Sails set at the stirring of wind over tide
They bear away a pageant of remembered trade -
A flock of stately seabirds through the lanes.