By Rachele Salvini
My grandfather had a little boat, where
we sailed until our salted skin got burnt.
His hands were fast, spotless and young
as he talked, gripping the ship’s wheel.
He told me about squids and moray eels.
We had no canals, but we had Fossi
which literally means moats. Trenches.
Green, dirty, putrid water, stagnating
among the pitch black streets of the city, heading
to the sea. And when the dusk sets over the Thames,
we go back to shore. His suntanned fingers
caress green waters. He smiles. Night comes.
In London, I can’t smell the sea, but can feel his voice,
the pungent odour of his shaving balm,
squid, fish and moray eels swimming home,
the rocking of the boat putting him to sleep.