Shad’wing – for Julia Darling on the anniversary of her death

Too dark to write
this rainy April morning, so
I’ll knit you a boat, Julia,
on big needles, strong as elbows,

trimmed in a  free-range yellow,
sprigg and span, sweet as a teacup, trig
and toasty, fit for the Nile, for the Tyne,
for the landing grounds of your lighthouses

I ache for still, those stay with me, go,
stay with me shades, fading slant
and gone, across the water:
I see you rowing for the Rendezvous in unseen sun,

nothing you need now, no gnarled prow, no four-ply
anchor –  you’re a sailing bird, a sailor flying,
sure as a tern, for whom the world is a thousand-mile
syllable, every breath says home,

anything’s possible across white noise
water, between sweep of echo
and our distance, your voice
carrying, a trawl-net of stars.

Pippa Little

“Shad’wing the surge that sweeps the lonely strand”
Sonnet XXX, ‘Bids Farewell to Lesbos’, Sappho and Phaon,
Mary Robinson 1757-1800

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1 Response to Shad’wing – for Julia Darling on the anniversary of her death

  1. Joan Johnston says:

    Love this. Julia would too! The rhythm of it, rocking like a boat.

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