Dockyard Hymnal

by Tyler Daly | April 18, 2024

You learned to love London at sixteen.


All of it: from the streets around your home that your father wanted cleaned by baptism to the sludge of my banks. You had a love for that, though—the grubby, the many-sided. The only form of sacrament these streets ever get is when I am summoned to flood over them and flow back into gutters.


You loved your parents: you relied on their cruelty. You cowered from your father and his god. You sought solace when you walked by me.


I met you somewhere between the Southbank and where I broke, my most brackish, on the gritty shore. You were so pale I may have mistaken you for my moon, might be why I bent to your will. Maybe instead, the small things that live where my body joins the Atlantic heard a home calling in you. Maybe I wanted to touch something of their sisters on the east coast of another land.


If you wanted to be infected by my dirt; I wonder if you were.

I have, after all, nine fathoms of soot that linger under my current.


I have had many lovers, disciples, obsessives. Out of practice in devoting myself, more practised in holding devotees in my fathoms, my experiment in being yours then seemed more a drowning. Now you lie amongst the shards of splintered cow bones embedded in my sick streambed. It has lingered forever, this question of worthiness, when I am at once palaeolithic and so young.


I threw myself so hard at you that I split open on your Mayflower rocks.


Some are gentle when they run their fingers through my dark waves. Some have such nails. Take my polished clay pipes home, then, and put them on your shelf. Swallow the waters of the docks. It might become holy wine, somewhere between mouthful and stomach.


I wish you could withstand me.


Words by Tyler Daly. Art by Jospeh Walford