Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Monday, 19 January 2015


The inspiration for this poem was a family story of an historic drowning in the lake at Loughbrickland (Irish: Loch Bricleann) a small village in County Down. The original tale is, like many others handed down over the years, vague and contradictory, but nevertheless it has stayed in my memory since childhood and makes its appearance in fictionalised form below. I've written more than one version of the event and discovered that, because of its narrative form, it also works quite well as Flash fiction
Here, then, is the curious story of an incident at Loughbrickland.   


A young man in a rowing boat,
oars raised, resting on still water,
casts overboard a single line
then settles back to let the sun
warm his pale face. His eyes reflect
an unflawed sky, grown more blue yet
as his boat bobs on a broad pond,
itself reflecting the awesome,
hungering, endlessness above.
At the broad pond’s edge, wild geese rise
in a rasp of noise, from tall reeds.
He turns his face to meet the sound,
that spreads outwards like a spillage,
and sees something, perhaps nothing,
rise then dip beneath the surface:
a fish perhaps, no, not a fish,
out there, where only fish should be,
a shapelessness, a shapeless shape.
He rubs his eyes; the sky goes dark,
then, when he opens them again,
sunlight, like a shower of needles,
makes him blink and he sees a shape
rear like a horse in the water,
its head and neck, black as bog-oak,
its watery mane like tendrils
of some obscure, aquatic plant.
It dives again and vanishes
as he sits spellbound, oars at rest,
dumfounded in the rocking boat,
the witching woods and shingle shore
so distant now. A shiver hits
the hull, something unnatural
disturbs the balance of the craft:
it sways and tips, his fishing rod
slips overboard; the sky and sun
suddenly tilt and what he hears
is the wild geese, their raucous din,
as water thunders round his head.
Cold, it fills his ears to bursting,
stifles his cry, makes wild his hair.
His eyes stare into spreading green
as, down, he tumbles like a stone
into a net of water-weed,
that grips him, cleaves and interweaves,
and thus, ensures he never leaves.

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