A while back I half joked with a colleague at work who was asking about a website for a conference for international researchers studying krill – “I could write you a poem as well, if you like.” He was back in touch with another question last week, and asked in passing, “Did you ever write that poem?” Well, I hadn’t, but I have now – so here you go, Andy!
My apologies to any krill-gurus out there for possible wild inaccuracies, but please remember, it’s not science – just a poem.
But also, it’s not entirely about krill…
We are krill
I am the meal that’s in-between,
a format suiting one and all,
for seals and squid and penguins,
converting the smallest of the sea,
for fish and shrimps and people, the
unseen convenience food that’s me.
No legends sung about us krills,
shape shifters of seven seas,
they ping us under pressure,
exoskeletons creaking we dive, dive, dive,
cosy swarm lights rising fallen,
gills bless this brine to wines of life.
More of us aswim than any other
swelling life in each ocean alive,
and not much here without us,
no great whales baleen or blue,
without some fish-free small fry,
brother, without us – me and you.
boundary lines surrendered
sculpture on the way
In February I attended an excellent workshop by prima poet Helen Mort called ‘Lines of Ascent’. This was part of this year’s Stanza strand celebrating hills, mountains and high places in poetry. The exercise this poem started from was about experimenting with perspective. Inevitably much subsequent plodding to and fro was required to arrive at my effort below.
Also, n.b. I am very fond of biscuits, including the old fashioned varieties …
Tay’s estuary is a custard cream
from thirty two miles
and three thousand feet,
sat on my old friend Mayar.
She’s just a southerly yellow stripe,
currents fickle and ambiguous
smeared to a sweeter layer of light
between Broughty and Tentsmuir.
In February survey square biologists
cookie cut the machar there,
quadrats cast as girdle nets,
griddles tallying growth and life.
From here we’re shrunk invisible,
with my biscuit tea-dunked in hand,
I see us all in plain view vanishing,
sugar granules spilt in distant sand.
Beech pennies tanned rust and ochre,
circles of sky cast in cold pressed leaf,
they do not always look the same,
though Brighty is damp almost all year
the pools are not always present.
I can look above and below,
but not at the same instant.
I must choose one plane,
breathe low and look kindly, and
fix each in focus, turn about.
This short circuit, a balanced cut-log bridge,
needle scent, fern and copper scale contours,
barely fifteen minutes to walk around, but
gently, surely, it all returns to ground.
A poppy pin.
A tiny lamp relit.
click to listen:
Sounds of rain
Staccato taps syncopate
justification on your cautious hood.
Inquisitions of rain discover
Cusps in Brighty’s surface.
Shallow lacunae warmed
By fallen silks of beech.