Four Poems

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

Black sea


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.

Theognis 825-30

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.

homeric hymn


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.

                  She smiled,

moved, picked. But earth shifted. Death rose

on horseback and took her.


Vija Celmins



Lithograph on paper from pencil drawing

317 × 420 mm