Sea, Sand, Sky by Helen Woods
The Sea refuses to be a Sonnet
In daytime the sea is in love with the sky; each wave
Is reaching out to touch its blue-grey face
The sea smooths gold in a blink and leaves it cold
On the sand as a piece of twisted wood.
The sea eats the ugliness of aeroplanes
And spits out gannets, albatrosses, gulls
The sea reads the words written on the beach
And sings them to the sky, who rains them down
On the rolling waves in high disdain.
At night the sea blows breath of fire and lights
The yellow moon, then eats its supper off it.
It cries over life and the living, embraces the dead.
No poet can tame it; it will not be a sonnet.
the border between:
the sea, the land
the roof of sky
the sun’s hot stare
the white seagulls
need no passport
a million closed eyes
a million tiny worlds
the scratch of a million fragments of ancient
pieces of the world
from almost before
the sunfirst opened its
An abundance of emptiness.
I am all the water the droughts don’t think they need.
I am the promise in a falling seed
I am your emptiness, blank and white
I am the admin office for all your hopes and dreams
I am a blue tablecloth spattered with stains
I am a robin’s egg, with a green yolk of the world
I am the strings that hang up the stars
I am the puppet-strings which keep your head above your heart
I am the wind in the prayer-flags that releases the mantra
I am the eye that is blinded with sight
I am the darkness that is brighter than light
I am the magpie’s infinite nest of all things beautiful
I am the turning wheel of water, the wheel of life
I am the gap between ideas, the space in your happiness
I am the breath from your lips and the sharp disappearance of oxygen.
I am ice
I am flight
I am the roof that pins you down
I am the helium that lifts you free
I am life and lack of life
So full of everything, so, so empty
© Helen Woods, 2014
"Line 4 is brilliant: ‘The sea smooths gold in a blink and leaves it cold’. When I finished reading that line remained in my mind, and will remain for its sound and its layered meaning. A line that stays in the mind is a crucial test for poetry. The writer makes common phrases new: ‘in a blink’, ‘leaves it cold’. This is very Carol Ann Duffy! This is a real poet, not just a clever child-poet. The poem is ambitious for someone so young. The second poem moves like a walk along the sea’s edge. Part 3 is rich with imagery, using several rhythms, but all musical."
GILLIAN CLARKE, 2014 judge