Poetry: 'A Merry Life, And A Short One' by Kate Garrett

for Bartholomew Roberts

When the chokehold of sulfur and saltpetre
released your men, they found your body cannon-
cradled, dead eyes watching the waiting swell
below. Moments before you stood, jewelled

and sober, every inch a captain; your voice
cut short by scattered shot, commanding sailors
whose rum-lust ways steered you into ruin.
But in their sweet confusion, in the wake

of their survival, they remembered your wis
to be joined with the sea that birthed you:
the peace you made with death, the truce struck
by hourglass, shaking hands with your final

moments when you became a pirate. They will
not sail your body back to England to hang
in chains – your afterlife a heaven of foam
and tides, home in the currents of the Atlantic.

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