The Shipping Forecast
Saturday, 16 October 2021 11:11

The Shipping Forecast

Published in Poetry

The Shipping Forecast

by Kevin Higgins

Back when the three giant liners,
Britannia, Eurasia, and Sweet Land of Liberty
weren’t all simultaneously
taking on tonnes of water,
you didn’t have to think
about what makes them float.

After loading your gut at the buffet
with more prawns and chocolate cheesecake
than it could be trusted to process –
each prawn pausing to give you
a filthy look before it slid
down your in-pipe –
you’d relax on the deck
of whichever of these
great ships you had a ticket for,
sip a glass of alleged
sophistication, as a talking
corduroy jacket
at the table next to you
waxes loud and large
about cheap insurance
policies and the invincibility
of ships such as this.

Now you’ve speed-read the technical manuals
and know
if certain particulars aren’t fixed
we’re all going to die
or, at least, want to;
you look at the corduroy
jackets talking their opinions
and wonder if it’s better
to be like them;
to think the answer
might be to elect as captain
some demagogue made of blancmange
or, failing that, Joe Biden;

or if not knowing just makes the shock
of the ocean hugging you
that bit worse?