Poem originally published in The Sea, a poetry/photography anthology edited by Steve Moore, published by Rebel Poetry and sponsored by Dublin Port Company in support of the RNLI. You can find out more about it here.
Here you see Brendan, reefing oxhide sails,
The currach veering broadside on,
The glutted fish all ears as he preaches
Over the breakers’ foamy hiss.
The sun wends its brass doldrum.
An ember-eyed devil squats on the prow,
Its tongue a rutted, meatless fork,
And psalmody its frozen anathema.
Here you see Brendan, his name loved
By manuscripts and whorled icons,
Clutching the wind-wracked halyard,
The sea his punishment and his promise.
The sails shiver. The oars prod a humpback
Islet, shaggy with the green of algae,
To rear heavily and sink in white seizure.
A following wind dives low, interring
The boat’s flax-sheathed skeleton
In and among the grey fathoms,
Slag-scorched waves buffeting
Her hull in a lather of sparks.
Here you see Brendan, cataracts
Of salt jabbing nostril and eyelid,
A rust-bitten halo now his bearing,
The Eden-shore in his exhausted sight.