By Arabella Currie
from γηρύω to roar
Clouds crack open like shells my gold island turns cherry red
sky hands rest a brimful cup on the sea streams tumble like apples
gone blood from silver silver to blood I could be forgiven for thinking
gods set me apart. Every night the yolk yellow drown of sunsets almost
as huge as me: gargantua wings clapping my own wings I spread them
light flickers through feather cracks clip clip clip clip
clip clip til they’re flush like a sail like a fan they shadow the whole
island gulls start to roost owls hoot then I wake them all up. More hands
than I can count crawl clawed on the sand lobsters smacking
their chaps. Pick a shell here a twist of string here a strip
of jelly creature a bottle gone bleached flaky as flesh. Feet feet everywhere
feet and shambling cows. I poise with an arch a curl of the toe knock
heels ease them northwards for grass nudge them
streamwards for water tuck them up under my wings their chests
heave ring cowbells in their sleep: cows sunsets birds sleeping
island and me. I don’t think death could come here it would be like
putting an arrow in the sun it would be like
herding my cattle in the sea it would be like
watching them fall
After Medea 410-45
Sucked upriver to where Dartford Crossing
knots its twin spires across the water, twenty-seven feet
of fat and bone became only a stroke among the ripples,
graceful as a kept oath. Overwater,
her voice became mist. Under, her long long
short long longs pulsed forward – the old music, glorious
strength of song.
But now in a terror of iron she stops
comprehending her water. Learns the touch
of a passing ship [ ] the whale also had evidence of historical
entanglement [ ] scars
on the dorsal fin and tail flukes [ ] large wound
on the underside of the head [ ] most likely a result of ship strike [ ]
the primary cause of death.
So take her body from the water.
Replace her anchorage with a bright blue crane.
Winch her to the bed of a MAN TGX
‘the high performance one,’ crimson
chain-hoists beneath her fins so she shrugs,
seems to nose forward – a big stuffed black
leather mole, coming up for air.
But what if. Now that the streams are running back
into their tunnels and the tides are turning,
let her sink slowly
through dark water. Let bubbles blow
in and through the opening mouth –
A track of darker water will cut
through the gleam of a spawn cloud.
Uncoiled like an ammonite she’ll wake
down into the silence of the sea.
How can you sing to piped music
when earth’s limits are becoming so
obvious? Earth that drops fruit in your arms
as you knot sleek hair with crimson,
and start to feast. Scythes my friend:
cut off your golden hair; stop singing;
start weeping for the scent of grass
about to disappear.
I’ll start with Demeter the grave goddess
and her skinny-ankled daughter who Hades raped
who gruff, omnipotent Zeus parceled up
who left her mother and walked with Ocean’s
slippery daughters to pick flowers:
crocuses, violets like crazy paving, irises,
hyacinth, daffodils which earth rammed
up: bait for this green girl, god’s will, death’s pleasure -
wet slick petals, fat stem, a hundred heads, smells
to kill for. All water, globe, ground gapes
to catch them. Tongues slide.
moved, picked. But earth shifted. Death rose
on horseback and took her.
Lithograph on paper from pencil drawing
317 × 420 mm