Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Poet Peter Kenny and I go back a long way.
We stumbled upon each others writing many years ago in the Guernsey Attic Press, a satirical arts magazine
(now, sadly, defunct) but didn’t actually meet until much later.
Although our approach to poetry is different, there is much that we have in common, so when, in 2010, Peter suggested a collaboration in the form of two collections of poems within the same covers, I readily agreed.
The result was A Guernsey Double, which incorporated two small volumes, The Boy Who Fell Upwards (Peter's contribution) and The Man Who Landed (mine) and some snappy artwork from Betsy Alvarez. 

It featured fifty poems on a Guernsey theme, was supported by the Guernsey Arts Commission, and sold remarkably well by poetry standards.
A few copies remain available at or via this blog’s Publications page.
Today’s poem, Rocquaine Mermaid, in common with all those you can read here during GUERNSEY WEEK, appeared in my segment of A Guernsey Double.
Rocquaine Bay is situated on the rugged west coast of Guernsey. At high tide, its granite coastal-walls withstand a constant battering from the sea. When storm conditions prevail, boulders and seaweed often make this stretch of coast road impassible.
At low tide, however, an extensive area of sand and rocks attracts children and adults alike, eager to search the nooks and crannies of rock-pools for baby crabs or tiny fish.
Bird-life is abundant and you can spot a huge variety of seabirds, from oystercatchers to snowy egrets.
Not many people, however, spot a mermaid.


She heaved herself up on a barnacled rock;
sea-water broke from her sun-blond hair
down over shoulders, freckled with salt:
a broad-breasted sea-nymph
launched from bright water.

No seal she, nor odd fish either,
but strangeness enough
in her queer duality.
Something feral
in those luminous eyes, some leonine thing
in the strong, broad face
turning, in sunlight,
to Lihou, Fort Grey.

in triangular space,
among moonscape rocks, sea-wall, sky,
too close to shore or for comfort;
misplaced, adrift
in a place unfamiliar,
she saw me, heron-still
in chill water, staring, staring

and slid like a seal, soundlessly, smoothly,
into the rising tide’s rich, sweet sanctuary,

leaving me,
human me, her land-locked kin,
excluded, bereft, imprisoned in air,
with a longing to hold her, inhale
her salt skin,
to fill my rough hands with wet fistfuls of hair.

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