"When the wind sits in the right quarter,
the sea mounting …" – that sounds like it,
doesn’t it? So what then, when the wind sits
right and the seas mount, well, what then?
Why then, the very undry bones are shown,
then they will sing and crackle with driven sands
and we shall all be shown fear in a handful
hoping those wet bones will not sing,
those rib bones, and knees, and strakes
out of the clanging tombstone tides
to ride a whimper down a gale.
We hope (by night) it is we whom we hear
whimper, but worse by day, in case not.
predict the bones rising where L’Alcmène
the French corvette drove ashore,
eighteen hundred and fifty-one, in winter.
Twelve men drowned, maybe ten, others
were badly injured, they say one woman.
And were buried, where? That is
a possible something for unease as you go
or on a better day as you go
rising and riding with the breakers, using
the surf, to remember somewhere beyond
these/those surflines out there
seen from the air (they say) and said (as
rumour, you know, just rumour) to have been
illegally dived on
a Portuguese carrack,
a Spanish caravel, what of them, those
who manned them, manned her, what of them?
From Last Poems (The Holloway Press, 2002)