Barges on the Royal Canal

There were old barges moored on the Royal Canal
Near where I lived
I watched them from the grassy bank
The blackened wood of their strong bodies
Sinking below the water line.
‘Too much Guinness,’ my father would laugh
As we walked along the tow path
Hand in hand.

There was something strangely comforting
About these boats.
They spoke to my child’s mind of a mysterious life
I could not comprehend.
Now, years later they are gone
And I miss them, as I miss old friends.

I longed to place my foot upon their blackened deck
To feel the current pull me from the bank.
I longed to liberate them from the reeds
That lined their marshy bed
To take them to the lock
And steer them free.

There were old barges moored on the Royal Canal
Near where I lived,
Their bow to the west,
Their stern to the east.
I watched their half-sunken bodies
Their day was done.

From the grassy bank I watched God’s sunlit rays
Pierce through their broken bows
To the hidden depths of their souls.
They had travelled to their journey’s end.
Even then my child’s mind knew
They were at rest. And yet
Years later, I am still sad
That they are gone.

© Eithne Reynolds

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