Poem for August

The Marine Biologist

declares my t-shirt, but I don’t mean it.
Ocean invertebrates are inconceivably lovely.
Each morning, I lower a bucket over
the side of the ship, clank it back up
on deck, then stick my hand
inside the sea’s feely bag. In countless
numbers, the fjord system’s summer whales
perform their languid acrobatics
within metres of the bowsprit.
Transfer even a soupçon of meltwater
to a Petri dish and, hush, the world’s
most previously inaccessible ballet-
dancers are practising arabesques.
Such secretly parted curtains!
Last Friday I identified
an entirely new species of Annelid,
a male and a female, framed
and translucid under the microscope’s hood:
they appeared to be having sex.

Sinead Morrissey

This poem is taken from Sinéad Morrissey’s sixth collection ‘On Balance’ (published by Carcanet) which won the 2017 Forward Prize for best collection. It is part of a sequence entitled Whitelessness which also includes poems about The Geologist, The Photographer, The Geographer, The Artist and The Archaeologist. TheIndependent has described Sinéad Morrissey as ‘the outstanding poet of her generation’.

Sinéad will be visiting Arran shortly as judge of this year’s McLellan Poetry Competition. You can hear her read at Corrie Hall on Friday 31st August or participate in her writing workshop (also in Corrie Hall) on the following day.

Words and poem contributed by David Underdown.