• Michelle

River in a dead sea bed

Today is World Ocean Day, so I thought I'd share a sea-inspired poem I've been working on. I'm still not sure if it's finished, but it feels as good a day as any to share it.


It started with a photo my mum sent me. My folks have recently moved further up north, to a flat overlooking the Wyre estuary. It's a vast landscape, as beautiful as it is bleak (on the not-so-sunny days). It's also scattered with shipwrecks near the dockside; vessels run aground, sloughing their skin and merging with the landscape as if they were always meant to be there.



Here's my mum's picture. To me it looks like a vast rib cage erupting from a grassy boneyard... Eventually I'd like to make a lino print inspired by this image, but for now I thought I'd write about it.


I'm still enjoying experimenting with AI as a writing prompt/partner at the mo. So, I scribbled a few sea-faring sentences inspired by the photo, fed these into Inferkit (AI text generator), and got a jumble of interesting responses. I took four random lines that I liked and these became the intro (and springboard) to my poem. I then fed the whole thing back into the text generator, and after a jumble more lines got an interesting title.



River in a dead sea bed


The smell of soap

goes with me to the sea

the moisture of your breath

on my eyelashes

the whisper of your name

a cold carapace


Thus am I pitched

tempered by your weightless echo

till the salt in the air

whips at my back

sucks at my hair

sea ants to the honeydew


No song can bring you to the shore

quite like a storm

the mad tangle of it

the smell of wet dog

where mosses now grow

in the tender, heavy stillness

of my peace


And the bones meant for you

now a house of splinters

wrested from a cyclone

and woven with brine

a relic, here

a rib cage yawning


They will read your words

in the skin of my fingers

taste the scent of you

in the fork of my hair

savage and probing

as a snake’s tongue.