When I Was Twelve

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

when I was twelve
my daddy and me
stood on a point of golden sand
and looked out over the water
his eyes were blue as the sky
we watched the sailboats flashing by
and all I knew or needed to know
was that I was his precious daughter
then he told me about his twelfth year
he went to a fancy private school
full of British pretensions and hard, hard rule
but oh the school was on the water
and when the daily lessons were done
how he loved to take a boat and sail
into the setting sun

and the gulls traced circles over our heads
time traced its circles too
and oh something was slipping away
into the blue

but the world can turn right over
in the space of a day or year
or in the time it takes for a little sailboat
to appear or disappear
and the masts are split and rotted now
the canvas sails are torn
out of the bay of innocence
this broken ship is born

here is a picture of a girl and a man
far in the background sails a tiny catamaran
his face is in shadow
hers is rather blurred
like she’s turning to a distant sound
she thinks she might have heard
and the boat sails on forever
on these fading swells of grey
the girl and man stand side by side
yet each slightly leaning away

and the gulls trace circles over their heads
time traces circles too
and oh something is slipping away
into the blue

whisky tumbler in his hand
and when he lets it fall
the spangled glass will spark and crash
like a wave against a wall
a piece will lodge deep in her heart
and thirty years will pass
before time enough and tears have
washed away the jagged glass

now once again
my daddy and me
we’re on a point of golden sand
and I’m looking out over the water
I open up the vessel
I’m letting something go
see how light the ashes fly
as the warm June breezes blow

and it’s just like swirls of golden smoke
like sand as fine as dreams
while out on the horizon
a white sail gleams
he’s finally going home
but I wonder what about me
as I watch the air grow blue again
I’m either free—or else I’m empty

when I was twelve…