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  • Writer's pictureTony Frobisher

Ferrying Hope

Ferrying Hope

The sea is choppy tonight

Waves break in distant foam

Rolling in the devil wind

A wind that spits cold

And rattles the soul

In the gloaming lights twinkle

A ferry bound for freedom

Rolling and pitching

Ignorant of the wind-fists

That beats its prow

What price freedom?

A passport and a hundred-pound ticket,

P&O comfort and warmth

Or thousands of Euros in

A freezing inflatable dingy?

The ferry plows on

Riding the swell, pitching black

A silhouette outlined under a clouded moon

Do the passengers peer from portholes

And wonder who waits on a desolate beach?

We leave in the small hours, no more delays

The moon is good, don’t worry about the waves

Tomorrow you’ll be tasting Fish n Chips

But first a crossing, dodging the ships

That threaten to engulf and swallow us

The smuggler leaves, a smile made of

Money and misery, and despair.

Inflate the dingy, prepare to launch

Crest the waves, pitch and roll and hang on

Gripping the vomit covered sides with fear

The wind is no friend tonight

Dawn lies 2 hours hence, first light

Slowly breaking from the grey light

But the gusts rip through our shivering hearts

Wrapped in life vests, sodden blankets and fear

Beneath us an ink black grave

Touch the water death, the vengeful waves

A sudden broadside and we may

Come to eternal rest

Washed up on England’s shore

Hour by hour the ferries pass

The tankers cross unconcerned

With the small fry of humanity

The deflated, the desperate,

The orange life and death vest refugees

The smuggler said just a chance of a shower

But spray soaked, the weather turns

Downpours continue hour upon hour

They’ll be no sunrise over the White Cliffs

Just a dull lifting of the grey

Silence falls, knuckles turn white

Through vice grips, holding on to hope

And cold that penetrates every heartbeat and rasping breath

The rain abates and the clouds part

Momentarily the dawn flickers with Dover light

Almost there and spirits lift

Come on, let’s race the ferries

There’s customs to clear

Any Duty Free to declare, anything

Illegal on board? – through the Red Channel

The Dead Channel, 21 miles of

Unrelenting fear, watching the waves

Sensing the wind toying with our lives

But are the lights getting closer, brighter?

To be shore, to be shore.

The cruelty of distance,

The looming cliffs within reach

But another hour at least until

That pebbled beach of English

Rounded stones and freedom

Waves of relief and exhaustion

Pass through us as we feel the shingle

Shift with our footfall

Off to my right, a ferry docks

And we too become the disembarked.

The arrived.

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