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.