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Grace Darling Learns to Count


– Brownsman Island, 1821

1 is a lighthouse, a person standing,
a finger raised, commanding ssshhh
the course of a gannet’s dive.

2 is a neb-nose duck out paddling,
a plane for wood or a girdling pan,
it’s the cold squat of yesterday’s iron.

3 is a guillemot tilting gales
4 is a sail in the Fairway tacking
hoving a cargo of more numbers:

5 will hook on fast to memory,
8 will moor with a rope twist
round and around the docking horns

but 7 is harder, like the cut
in your sister’s lip
only the Mainland mentions.

6 and 9 keep troubling you –
two whelks in a rock pool tumbling
away from any sense of up

but 10 is your mother at the spinning wheel;
it’s you learning the world
whose numbers come to learn you.

© Christy Ducker 2015

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