This poem was written as part of a commission to respond to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around the island of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland Coast. The poems were commissioned to be published in a pamphlet and to be recorded and incorporated into a short film featuring images of the landscape by photographer and film-maker Phyllis Christopher. I include this poem in the portfolio because the planned outcome of the project influenced the writing of the poem from the beginning, drawing my attention to its eventual multimedia form and prompting me to consider very closely how the poem would look on the page, would sound read out loud, and would work in tandem with images in the film.
The poem text, the recorded reading, and stills from the film are included below.
This story is the same as it ever was.
Shells accumulate on the shore like prayers,
edged up to the dunes and caught in roots,
bound in the weave as we wave,
passing the story this way
then that. We speak over the wind,
through it. Told the story as the sea
carved its own picture in the shore,
while stone and dead trees
were dragged over the sea bed,
between the snapping of its jaws.
Houses for God founded and lost,
herringers and cobles, hook and dredge,
and all the time, the land drawing breath,
Black ribs cracking with the stretch,
the message flows, quick
as a ruffle of fur, out
past posts driven in
for safe passage
and away down unnamed roads.
Audio recording for ‘Waves and Bones’
Stills from ‘Waves and Bones’ by Phyllis Christopher: