The River Caves

By | 23 December 2013

We were keen young cubs, members
of 3rd Mosman Bay Sea Scouts.
Twelve years old and full
of excitement, collecting donations
for the club house charity.
On bob-a-job week we walked
up and down steep streets
around the harbour, mowing
lawns, raking leaves, taking
on any work we were offered.
A woman asked us to remove
a huge white carp from one
of her garden ponds,
dead for a week, its smell clung
to our uniforms all day—
she had a mansion with a
suburban jungle surrounding it.
One Saturday morning
we ended up at Luna Park,
wandered in, and came across
the River Caves—a ride
that carried us through dark
caves and illuminated caverns
sitting in little brightly painted boats.
By the time we entered
the second cave we were looking
for trouble. The next cave
was an artificial South Pole,
with ice and hundreds of penguins.
I jumped out first—
the others followed, our boat
moved on so fast it left us
stranded. We heard another one
coming, and not to be caught,
I told my friends to ‘freeze’ as if
we were models of cubs in a landscape,
the frozen Sea Scouts of the River Caves.

This poem first appeared in Shark-net Seahorses of Balmoral: A Harbour Memoir

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