In memory of Dylan Thomas
How odd, after all these years
to return to the boathouse as the dawn mist
rises ghostly as a lapwing’s heart-cry
to lure daybreak from the grieving dark,
and catch the ghost of you out on the mudflats
in your old tweed coat
whelking for poems:
my beast, my angel, my fat little fool.
On these tidal reaches
Where Taf, Towy and Gwendraweth
meet and boats lie beach in
a silver throat of brackish water,
I danced barefoot, gathered cockles
In the hem of my long skirt, salty vulvae
to boil in a broth for you on the black iron stove.
At night, in our pink bedroom
you sucked me clean amid a musk
of winter apples, spilt bottles of ale.
Rats scuttled in the privy. Bath-time
I’d lay out dolly mixture in the soap tray,
scrub your plump baby’s back.
Unruly children we clung together
in an adult world. But with the rage,
the drinking, an innocence was lost.
That morning I found you dying across
an ocean, they strapped me in a straightjacket
for smashing the hospital crucifix.
Still I see your curly head against
the regulation pillow. Those little
fin-like hands curled on the white sheet.
From Swimming to Albania
Salmon Press Ireland 2021