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This article is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Stranded on Bryher John Wilkinson

All gathering, all propagating, all-inclusive
of it all, itself included, was that worm within.

Would the crop be ruined, would a shearwater
arrow skim east of Hangman’s Rock or west,

a blast of wind lift a swallow to miscarry over
cleft it calls home, gulls break loose in dialects.

These as though augury refusing the exception,
scanning for the airborne fixative might hold

were foreshadowed in indigo pressed to a hair
cocooned in a gall a worm packs with shadow.


Blue-black spills across a wiped plate, a wood
wasp scribbles down the wood-note song-path,

sheathing a sting that is the signal for a spider
to mend defences in its snarls. Byways abound.

It’s clear the race is running fast that breathes
on mottled boulders, hollow tread, the sponge,

just as the crinkle top above the cold immobile
depths, flickers with the late-shoaling solemn

statement in all languages a quick wind strews,
whose foam florets re-coalesce by this opening.


Out of its directions air falls in sonic chunks
bobbing on the wave screams that rush to fill
gaps left between zones stonechats and gulls
keep in motion. Soon set as lumps of jelly
stuck with cries and surf-fall, a silent crawler
occupies the yards and sheds, outbuildings
where discreet professions imagine to perfuse
on-air writing. But ...

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