Friday, February 20, 2009

A Short Season of Other Poets: Ben Wilkinson


Out from the quay, and the trawler heading away
     to foreign waters
wobbles as if an apple bobbing in the kitchen basin
     of All Hallows’ Eve.

Its dragnet of dregs, settling on the sea’s black-misted
of low-lying cod, haddock, the monstrous sub of the
     deep Atlantic salmon,

almost looks to be catching the water’s beady-eyed
as if to expel its forty-one million square miles
     of swallowing depression.

Returning, with so much fresh fish for tomorrow’s
     hungry morning,
and the bulk of boat slow-shifts from foot to foot,
     tethered down to its cobblestone jetty.

And yet, through some fathomless way of sunless
     ferment, next day
sees the sea ten strong or more, as if the trawler had
     never flounced

its many tons, shook its shivering skin above,
     the freezing depths
rippling beneath. The way the ocean filters up
     its once salt-ridden waters

to the streams and brooks inland, or how the Egyptian
     cobra shed its skin,
intact, carefully rubbing its head, leaving behind a perfect
     replica of itself.

From the sparks (tall-lighthouse, 2008)
First published in Poetry Review 97:1, Spring 2007

Ben Wilkinson was born in Stafford and lives and works in Sheffield. As well as poetry, he writes reviews and criticism which have appeared in publications including Poetry Review, Stand and the TLS. His pamphlet of poems, the sparks, was published last year by tall-lighthouse as part of their talent-spotting Pilot series. He blogs at Deconstructive Wasteland.


BarbaraS said...

This poem ends up somewhere else entirely. Sometimes a zig zag can get in the way of a poem's meaning, but here it is justified.

Jane Holland said...

I agree; interesting, isn't it? A good choice, I think.

Angela France said...

I particularly like the use of sound - especially enjoying the slow weight of "the bulk of boat slow-shifts from foot to foot"

Mairi said...

I just read Ben Wilkinson's review of Maura Dooley's new book, in this weeks TLS, which sent me off looking for the poems of both of them. Only to find I'd read one of his here a few days ago and forgotten his name. I won't do that again.