Blasket Sound (3rd prize: 2012 Competition)

You’re hugged to my chest in a buoyancy aid

called this is not a Life-jacket, comfortable

in your skin, in the small, Aran woollen

which still holds the animal smell of sodden sheep.

A crop of them prop up the hill, not judging.

 

The boat of ourselves rises and falls.

Troughs tower like something out of Exodus.

In the pit of the wave, weighted dark,

from which we’re delivered each time to a glimpse

of the Great Blasket, its cataclysm of gulls.

 

The dark sky’s split, but in the boat, storm-engendered

calm; your heart-beat steady, head let fall,

body’s profligate heat. Your eyelids close

on eyes whose changing grey this sea trusts,

its moods implicit in their clear transitions.

 

The child hugs my chest like the island its Atlantic.

My back’s bent to the boat’s curve, cradled, rocked,

a nautical lullaby, echo of arcs,

like you’d cup the hand to hear the better;

water, listening, like wood, like skin.