Hold-fasts and sea-whips,
urchins and sponges,
sun coral and rock-weed –
their shy brine-glimmer
hosts a flash of dorsal and gill,
shimmer of scale and fin,
of fingers and breasts
and hair and skin.
I tell drowning men
that the song of my sisters
sinks no ships, they flounder,
disbelieving, I tell them
blunt bows and split decks faster
than the sun sets; under they go:
life frayed as old rope.
What would we do with them all?
Can't beach them like whales,
can't set straight stern and sails
to send them on their way again,
can't fix their bodies that are
too much water already,
but we foam-flicker, skim their sinking
and linger like kelp, a last song
leaves our lips and fills their mouths,
they gulp euphoria, their boots
and bellies leaden with it,
till they are shored abed
as deep as the world goes.
Jo Brandon was born in 1986 and raised in rural Lincolnshire. She currently lives in West Yorkshire. Her pamphlet, Phobia, was published in 2012 and her full-length collection, The Learned Goose, in 2015, both with Valley Press. Her third book, Cures, is due out 2021. Jo is former Editor of Cadaverine and her work has featured in various magazines and anthologies including Butcher’s Dog, The North, Poetry Review, Popshot, Strix, Magma, Dream Catcher, Words for the Wild and Dear Damsels.