Sell the Petticoat and Go to Sea – Maggie Mackay

Sell the Petticoat and Go to Sea

It’s a gey wondrous place and I’m lucky for tae see it and live.
(George Bissett, great-great-grandfather and ship’s carpenter, 1866)

Bleachfields spread in Clydeside sun.
Whitening sheets blink
ballooning like tides, like sails,
as Jacobina’s man clips his fortune
to a passage out of Greenock,
destined for the far east of the globe.
George is ship’s carpenter, adventurer
to places she’d never know, to sunken reefs,
uncharted water, monsoon sky, coral rock.

Here sits her little life on earth,
a China junk on the window sill,
bairns to raise and poems to pencil.
She writes of herself,
not the cutter or stitcher of silk,
but as the nation’s spy,
flying a hot air balloon across the Continent.


Maggie Mackay’s work appears in the award-winning #MeToo anthology while other poems have been nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize and commended in the Mothers’ Milk Writing Prize. Her debut pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry.

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