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Shipping Good was commissioned by Cathedral Group and written upon the hoardings by Greenwich Station in 2012. In 2015 the poem will be inlaid into the developments where the hoardings were. It is written in stone. These two pictures are a sneak preview of the finished product. Shipping good has the most personal of all my Landmark poems. With the right illustrator it would make a great children’s book. A writer called Ali Harris passed the poem each day and included it in her novel Written in The Stars.




Shipping Good

The clock clicks in a child’s hand
As she skips to the tics and tocs
Under the park tunnels run from the dark
While sun circles the clocks

Flowers grow for those that know
To bloom is to know your roots
To give the earth all it’s worth
Tend to the new shoots

And a horse on course its hooves
Drum beneath the earth
Where dreadnought’s sleeping seamen
Are weeping for the berth

While the marshes sigh at night
When sky dives into The Thames
Greenwich and I will sleep again
And wake again as friends

It is the thudding in my ear
Upon the pillow that sounds
Like a black mare churning
Dreams from the ground

As she charges towards
The Meridian Line
Leaps Sheperds Gate
And dives into time

Where an Ancient mariner
His guest no longer cross
Sings songs of his wrongs
To a circling albatross

(What you bring home and take away
Are the goods that become
The story of Royal Greenwich
And all she has done)

A coffee cup lifts to the face
In its reflection a woman sees the sea
Where a small girl in a boat smiles
She whispers this must be me

And the girl cranes her neck
She sails the swirls in the cup
And smiles for a minute and frowns
And holds the flowers up

Here lies the beginning of time
Where the river cradles the land
Here lies the roundabout
About the sun and the sand

And the star rises on observatory hill
and watches them watching him
And the water spills on a quiet wharf
Where the silver mermaids swim

And a woman collects the crests
and takes them home to spin
She makes Sails for the high road
For our dreams to begin

Lemn Sissay