Longlisted Poem 2012

Beth Oliver

Arthur Mellows Village College, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

29,000 Rubber Ducks Lost At Sea

Thanksgiving in Alaska,
And faded plastic ducks are washing up onto the frozen shores,
A scientist reckons they were lost off a container ship from Hong Kong,
Unhitched in a storm and fallen, unnoticed, into the blackened ocean,
Escaping improbably from their metal prison and their cardboard constraints disintegrating,
Multi-coloured toys spreading like confetti,
Each one finding its freedom not in the baths of joyless American four year olds,
But darting about carelessly in the unwelcoming Pacific,
Floating past yachts enjoying brief exposures of sunshine,
Some reached paradise down South on barely inhabited islands,
Or glided across the top of the Great Barrier Reef,
Above the heads of oblivious snorkelers swimming below,
There were those that drifted languidly down the California coast and were assaulted by surf boards,
Far more became stuck in that endless whirlpool in the Pacific,
Another adornment for a growing garbage patch,
Some escaped beyond Russia into the freedom of the Atlantic,
Returned to the States and the vibrant East,
Sailing triumphantly down the Hudson now looking decidedly white,
Others journeyed to Normandy,
Where students learning of D-Day pointed out their absurd guests to disbelieving teachers,
They reached the Hebrides in the bitter cold,
And some tumbled onto the Devon beaches discoloured but somehow able to float,
Still they wash up and circle the globe for the second or third time,
And those children whose baths they should have shared,
Are thirty with kids of their own and have lost the desire to play,
Whilst back in Alaska,
There’s a growing amount of multi-coloured sand,
Which can be bottled and claimed as a small part,
Of those 29,000 rubber ducks lost at sea.
© Beth Oliver

Project Details

  • Date January 11, 2015
  • Tags 2012 Voyages - Longlisted Poems