Mailboats Shetland: Mark & John H

Mark Ryan Smith and John Hunter collaborated on a Mailboat Project. You can follow their creative process below.

17th May 2008 – Mark

D Sang u d Sailin Meyn

D myoosic u dir voysis
faaldit itae a laang-kerried kyist,
t be kerried awaa boot d
world eence ageyn.

Dir wirds dir cergo:
sailin awaa an fram
t ungkin plaesis – Japan,
Singapore, San Fran-
Cisco – t seek common cadence we
d wirds o iddir meyn
awaa fae hame,
choost d saam.

Nae faurin tungs –
d sangs u d sailin meyn windin
tgidder, lik d straands o a
twist a taerry raup, we d
wirds u dir saat-waatir kin.

The Song of the Sailing Men

The music of their voices
folded into a well-travelled sea chest,
to be carried away around the
world once again.

Their words were their cargo:
Sailing away out to sea
to foreign places – Japan,
Singapore, San Fran-
Cisco – to seek common cadence with
the words of other men
away from home,
just the same.

No foreign tongues –
the songs of the sailing men winding
together, like the strands of a
twist of tarry rope, with the
words of their salt-water kin.

(D Sailor’s Haumcumin)

Man an wife,
lang held sindree –
d rowl an d rise an d ebb o
thoosands apu thoosands o
waves lyin atween.

Sho maaks apo hir sock,
watchin hit grow;
d sam as Penelope tinkin lang
aboot hir man scuddin an rumblin
awaa aboot d wide oot-yunder.

Rowlin oot doa fir banniks.
Maakin eenyoach fir dm baith.
A herd habeet t brak.
Sho slides d banniks ida oavin an,
untinkin, trivvils d herd langth u d
owld rowlin preen.

A stoor o baaky ida keetchin,
ungkin an ert kent baith tgidder,
pooz hir itae d present tense.
An a voys – coorsind we saat an rum an d
cumpinee o iddir meyn –
spaeks hir name, clear eenyoch.

Shu aupins d oavin doar
an smiles as sho sees d
banniks rizn up boanie.
He draaz fae his pipe,
spaeks naun but staands we a blyde look
whin he seez d haet banniks staandin
prood, foo an tiftin.

(The Sailor’s Homecoming)

Man and wife,
long held apart –
the roll and the rise and the fall of
thousands upon thousands of
waves lying between them.

She knits,
watching the garment grow;
the same as Penelope thinking yearningly
about her man crashing
around in the wide ocean.

Rolling out dough for scones.
Making enough for them both.
A hard habit to break.
She slides the scones in the oven and,
absent mindedly, fingers the hard length of the
old rolling pin.

A smell of tobacco in the kitchen,
both strange and well known at the same time,
pulls her into the present tense.
And a voice – made coarse with salt and rum and the
company of other men –
speaks her name, clear enough.

She opens the oven door
and smiles as she sees the
scones have risen pleasingly.
He draws on his pipe,
doesn’t speak any more but stands looking happy
when he sees the hot scones standing
proud, full and swelling.