As he sails the coracle of willow and skins,
his bird eyes mirror the moon behind cloud.
Spring tide drags west but he paddles east.
Water seeps through the stitching a little like blood.
Arne buckles his weight over the hump of the river,
the small craft alive on the back of the wave
as he waits for the hook to reveal his possessions:
pot of ink, hunk of amethyst, a drawing
of a storm framed in gold and made of light.
He wraps these in hessian, a swaddle of ornament,
pulls up a line as the clouds move south,
rain simpers along the Welsh mountains,
calling ‘Go home now. Find a dent
in the earth and burrow in’. He sings
to the wind, rows the harrying waters.
Across the estuary a ship bell starts to ring.
An Irish ferry slows its entry into the detritus
of objects on the river awaiting the storm:
a broken slate, rat’s corpse, torn lace, a mirror,
the thought of the future in a golden case
open to spray, velvet inlay sodden with salt.
A handful of red hair floats like a jelly fish
caught in the to and fro, in the froth of the drag.
A cormorant extends its shining black feathers
as he walks ashore on the bone of the wing.
© Eleanor Rees, Arne’s Progress