By Sea They Came by Ciaran MacLennan*

Human Cargo

I guided the wire and the great piston arms of the davits, first for one boat and

then the other

And lowered them gently into the calm black sea

We watched as they became just red and green navigation lights in the distance while

Pearl blue clouds tumbled softly along the ship’s hull and

We waited for them to return from the navy boat Leeuwin.

They came back, the two fast just boats, bows proudly riding the slow swell,

and rolled in alongside. The coxswain connected to the davit wire and, gently,

gently, I plucked them, pop, from the yielding sea womb and back up into the

davit arms, brimming with a secret cargo,

As wild eyed as bad men,

Huddled together,

Diminutive in the bright orange life jackets, like strange midnight nestlings

looking up, white eyed and hollow cheeked,

Those lean-boned sons of Bangladesh,

Famine driven into the sea.


*Ciaran MacLennan was born in the North of Ireland and raised in Brisbane. He is a Merchant Seaman and Poet.