My Fourth Visit
We didn’t stay long in Exmouth.
The waves made national news that day,
the only time I’ve been to Devon in winter.
It didn’t resemble the place
where I’d had my interview at Rolle College
the last time I stayed with you,
or where I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant
with the family after we’d looked round A La Ronde.
I must have gone twice that holiday,
my paperbacks by Margot Asquith
definitely came from there, and perhaps
David Cecil’s Early Victorian Novelists
with a chunk of pages on Mrs Gaskell missing.
The birthplace of my mother,
now it’s somewhere I go with her and Dad
after funerals – first your mother’s,
then your husband’s. I hope next time
won’t be after yours.
Late summer; the gull lands to twist the neck from the body
And picks at gaping gills,
While mother-of-pearl scales
Cling to its stark yellow beak.
Slick, sleek silver, slapped hard against black rock
Back broken, bones splayed out
And left to bleach.
Recharged, the gull lurches forward and leaves
For another steal at the fishing boat.
Late autumn; the land is herringboned to the sea
Nipped, tucked and structured,
Laid to rest
Ready for sowing in spring.
Rainwater runs in the ruckles
Shimmering the earth under thick-set skies
Shaved curls overlap
Like the crest of a lapwing’s crown
They will return with their dance
When the warmer winds blow.
Late winter; wool blanket, herringbone weave
Wrapped up against the wind
That rattles the old worn window-frames
And sends a familiar whistle through the hole in the oak tree,
Down by the gate.
The house martin’s nest a smear against the wall
Erased by water running in invisible trails
From roof to path to land to burn to stream to river to sea
It rarely snows, here,
On the blurred boundary line between soil and salt.
Late spring; the hares have spent time enough
Berating one another for a chance at love
Chasing down the runs of the fields
Before stopping to listen, alert and wild-eyed.
The swallows return
And cut the air into ribbons
In their quest for insects
While the lapwings flip, wing over tail,
In their own bizarre ritual
Under this evening’s herringbone sky.
*Published in Northwords Now 34, October 2017
Bios And Links
lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter. He has been published in various magazines including Dreich where these poems previously appeared. He won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.
A freelance science writer by trade, Larissa has written poetry and prose regularly since 2016. Notable publications include Northwords Now, Silk & Smoke, Green Ink Poetry, Fenacular, Black Bough Poetry Anthologies, and the Beyond the Swelkie Anthology. She had a poem shortlisted for the Janet Coats Memorial Prize 2020. Larissa is intrigued by visible and invisible boundary lines in landscapes – geological faultlines, myth and reality, edge-lines of land and sea. Based on Scotland’s east coast, she balances her writing life with bringing up her daughters. Larissa is a founder member of the Edinburgh-based writing group, Twisted::Colon.