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Puffins of Lent, a poem


I meant to write a story, something about a child and a cliff,

how God made a fish masquerade as a bird. Need and want.

I want to taste salt in oil, have blubber slide down my gullet.

I need to walk and keep their chattering beaks to my right

and the water to my left, not want their silence or need their meat.

That was never it, it was about the haze of childhood,

fragments of consciousness, like a boat cutting through sea-mist.

Now listen, son said James Stewart hold on, as the wash

came at them and a foghorn told them they were alive.

That was it, the feeling of life, of nourishment after a fast.

I fasted of words, didn’t speak or put pen to page.

Broke: words came scattered, these shatter and stutter,

they repeat recorded conversation, half-caught

gasps of shock, of her son being framed by the pigs,

squealing like a boar dragged from the river, hook in its throat.

If it came from amongst fish then it must be a fish,

serve it with dill, peppery piss flower, liver of herbage.

He climbed down the cliff, every step was his fall foretold,

found good grips between wet rocks, brushed a hand against just opened

eggs, found that last puffin. He stayed there, hungry, watchful and weak.


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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