Skip to main content

The Navigator

Once, when he was young, my father crossed the Channel
with his brother, in a dinghy. ‘Two miles out of Calais
and the fog came down. Pea soup. No wind.
We dropped the sail and started up the outboard.’
My uncle steered, my father read the compass and the chart.
Around them, great invisible ships’ sirens blared.
For hours in dead calm sea they blindly made their way.
My father must have used the compass with such art
that, telling us the story in the droll way that he had,
‘The fog seemed even solider than usual
until we bounced off Dover harbour wall.’
‘But weren’t you frightened?’ ‘Of the sirens, yes.
Not otherwise. I had God’s guidance, and the compass.’