Rowing Boat

The Prom was empty as I walked this morning. The Coops pub was still open, clearly making the most of their last night of opening before shut down. Everything else was closed. A few students could be heard noisily making their way home. I saw a light from a mobile phone by the sea’s edge on South Marine and the woman with the plastic bag who shops in the early hours at the 24 hr garage passed me, but other than that there was nothing. Until that is I heard a sound behind me. It was just as I was walking down the hill beyond the harbour towards home. It was a rolling sound, of wheels dragging on tarmac and voices. I turned round. A group of five or six men were pushing a small wooden rowing boat towards me. I walked a little faster. They were laughing as they pushed. I headed for the steps that would take me up to South Road and turned to look at them. They were far behind, the boat was clearly cumbersome to push. Where were they going with it? I thought that they would’ve launched it into the water, though on second thoughts the tide was out so water was scarce. Perhaps they intended to upend it like the other boats just behind the harbour. Who knows? I didn’t intend to hang around to find out. We are all edgy. People cross the road at one’s approach. Nothing feels safe. Nothing feels familiar. Keep steady. It will pass. Though when it does much will have changed. Meanwhile there is work to do. That is good. That keeps me steady. Are you OK?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.