Trawlermen

by Jennie Carr

I had a white ‘un once: there were that many pockets
I could never find my loose change.” Hull trawlerman

 

Three weeks at sea then seventy-two hours
for the ‘three-day millionaires’ to put on their suits

(sewn to order by a Hessle Road tailor – a jacket in sky blue
with belt or double-breasted in check, wide trousers to match).

His dad picks them up from the dock, in exchange they lay
a whole cod and whole skate in the boot of dad’s car. At home

the men carry the fish up the stairs and flop them into the bath:
the skate’s wings hang over the edge, the cod fills it end to end.

There’s Chuck, Charlie and Ted Puck (called ‘Shoes’
on account of his extra large feet and who’s sure to sleep

on their settee tonight because he’s fallen out with his wife).
As always they’re respectful to his mam who makes them

cups of tea and sandwiches which they eat by the open fire
undoing the cold North Sea. Later they come back from the pub

singing and shouting, fighting amongst themselves:
he almost forgives them their drunkenness when

as he passes them in the hall on his way up to bed
‘Shoes’ slips him a Mars bar and Chuck a threppny bit.