‘Th’ whales hasn’t mended their manners, as you call it,’ said Charley Kinraid; ‘but th’ ice is not to be spoken lightly on.’
Elizabeth Gaskell, Sylvia’s Lovers (1863)
Sylvia is asleep,
pictures Charley and his profession.
She thinks he has an expressive face,
a weather-bronzed complexion;
she admires his deep-set penetrating eyes.
The whaling-boat lies
on aventurine-coloured water,
drifts into an iceberg’s shadow.
Harpoon a whale,
lash its fins together,
fasten its tail to the boat.
gulp of the foaming waters.
Boat and whale vanish,
yet the iceberg remains:
Travel to the Southern seas,
a wall of ice as high as the monastery on the cliffs.
Sail for days seeking
for a way through the grey-green mass.
A cleft in the weary rock of ice
with smooth sides.
Inside: garnet and topaz flames
of unearthly kind.
Never a shred was melted.
Copyright © Edwin Stockdale 2013
Edwin’s recent magazine publications are the Coffee House, Drey (Red Squirrel Press), ink sweat & tears, the Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Scotland and Snakeskin. He currently works as an Early Years Professional in a community nursery just outside Chester.