The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet

TKCC cover Feb 2014

Sonnets for the Sea

                Inspired by the exhibition of paintings by Bruce Killeen

                (Sonnets of  the Sea)

 I: Metaphorical Distance

Out at farthest focus, drifting, peaceful:

Green ladled with mauve like a healing bruise.

Light lies heavy on the horizon; chooses

To lean its languid body westward. The pull

Of the rolling planet quickens, and the full,

Swelling, murmurous mass of the tide looses

The bonds of gravity, dropping the deep, pellucid,

Purpleness of light gracefully into the ocean’s well.

Dipping my toe into the water, gasping

At the cold, desiring to go deeper and far,

I stare outward along the long divide

Of the horizon; the waves on the sand rasping

At the edge of the land, my feet, my heart:

Like this sea-coloured bruise I am trying to hide.

II: Formalising the Atlantic

Where will you go from here? You’ve measured exactly

The angle of sunlight that, striking the cloud layer,

Refracts through the prism of the horizon, neat and square,

A thousand shades of aquamarine; laying them delicately

End to end along the proper horizontal, modestly

Masked with shadow. With dividers and set square

You’ve drawn the perfect perpendicular, straight and set fair

To indicate the strict statistical limits of visual accuracy.

But how can you calculate clearly, precisely,

The creeping numbness of toes, cormorants, the stark

Face-slap of salt, the way the selkies sing?

Or the kick of the tiller against your wrist, turning nicely

Into the wind? Formal analysis misses the mark:

The poet is in this landscape. That changes everything.


III: Like the Sea

Why is a sonnet like the sea? For one,

When you start to search it recedes from you,

Seeping away towards the distant, blue

Hazy hover of light on the horizon.

Its going reveals deep clefts, exposed to the sun:

Vulnerable. Laid open to the view

Of the inner eye: arid fields of conflict; overdue

Reminders of other projects, left undone.

On a moment, while your back is turned: the change.

Moving effortlessly with the moon’s quiet pull,

Thought washes back, inescapable.

The mind’s tide rises. Words rearrange

Themselves. The ocean inspires: limpid, brimful

Of creativity. Not to write would be intolerable.



Sunlight on the bay:

Golden promise of summer

Holds rain in its lap.



Flower essences

Flow from the midnight pen of

My garden poet.