When they drag those lifeless bodies from the water,
record statistics, choose to print on front or inside page;
it will be somebody’s mother, wife, or daughter,
or a father, husband, son of youthful age.
They have not drowned yet.
Not tumbled overboard by backwash of a wave,
have not surfed in hidden slipstreams just offshore.
Have not yet breathed the element becoming briny grave
nor beached where sudden tidal gullies pour.
They might be ourselves, or now live and breathe amongst us
they might be our neighbours, colleagues or our kin,
while the costs of coastguards services are measured
against the debts of bankers, fools and kings.
These are the facts.
The slashing of a budget for some saving
of something more important, it’s implied;
as future tragedies just leave them waving,
unsaved, too late, and so betrayed, to die.
This is the truth.
For seas are unpredictable and ruthless
and undercurrents complicate the risks,
and government statistics cruel and truthless
when their dry facts are compounded by sea mists,
and with look-out station windows shuttered, boarded,
several helicopters grounded, saving costs.
And how much money will lives have afforded?
And is the price worth all who will be lost?
No it is not.
Not one of us in folly or misfortune,
whilst in employment or in leisure and by fate
deserves to flounder while the coins of impunes
are recovered in some ledger of the State.
Our forebears lived and died so that the Coastguard
could save lives without favour, without preference or blame.
The arrogance of those who cut the Coastguard!
A curse is theirs. They choose it with this murder, with this shame.