June – Wendy Pratt

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Lapstrake

The hull planks overlap, they ‘land’
against each other and nest up
as fishermen must do. The span
of water peeling off the bow; the waves that but

against each other and nest up
are creatures searching out the curl
of water peeling off the bow. The waves that but
against the keel and dip the world,

like creatures searching out the curl
of shells, of safety, bed down and wait
against the keel and dip. The world
is pouring through to Helheim*. Pray

for shells, for safety, bed down and wait
as fisherman must do. The span
is pouring through to Helheim. Pray
the hull planks overlap, they land.

*Helheim: The Viking version of Hell

 

 

 

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Gran Canaria, 2011

This place is bigger than both of us.
We watch the ocean pick
our thoughts; sifting them off:
thought-flotsam, but we don’t think.
There is no need, waves,
playing with shells and stones
on the tide-line
do the thinking for us.
My head has become a basin of ground shell pieces
and the Liquid-aluminium-Atlantic
stretches us clean, wiping
our old selves away. The only anchor
is the cool of your palm, the slap
of cards on the hotel table, the murmur
of voices, falling like gulls from our conscience.

 

 

 

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Climbing Down, Remaining the Same

 Dolphins, in their evolutionary
climb, once walked on land,
clambered through the wastes
and shaped themselves, dog-like,
before the fall back into ocean.
I’ve seen them, moving like sea reeds,
between each other, sand-bellied
and reaching through the flagged light,
touching fins, mouthing backs,
whining and singing in sonar.

And I recognise the grace and joy
of dogs on the beach, how the frond
of seaweed, hooked, streamer-like
on the ridged tail of a spinner,
is mirrored in the loose lipped grin
of a spaniel in the surf. Dogs,
grouping in pleasure seeking shoals
on Cornelian bay, winding tails,
pawing faces, laughing at the perfect
freedom of climbing down,
remaining the same.

 

 

 

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Mermaid

In her flat above the harbour
she picked crab shells clean
as bones, left the taps to run,
opened her tail on the corduroy
after her kids, cod-eyed and concertina
cartilage lipped, had fish-tailed off to school.

Out of her element, her bones scraped
under her scales and her skin hung
like bat wings, she was mummifying,
becoming small as a freak show mermaid,
a tiny dried out effigy; a mackerel tail,
a pin-bone rib cage, an oversized baby-skull head.

Nimble fish came in shoals, in flashes;
the sun spinning over in a bait ball.
They pushed suckered tongues through
the paper skin to bleed the salty blue
of mermaid blood. They took the pain
of being dried out away. And she swam
back and away over the harbour wall
back to her swimming dream time, back
to the weightlessness like a water birth.

 

 

 

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Wendy’s poems are from her latest pamphlet, Lapstrake, published by Flarestack Poets and available here:

http://www.flarestackpoets.co.uk/page5.htm