by Chris Considine
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In grounded yet imaginative poems Chris Considine evokes Looe Island, a small island off the coast of Cornwall. Though she writes of a particular place, her writing touches the essence of all islands: both of the world and yet apart from it, where ‘Tides rise and fall like breathing’, and when one arrives or departs depends on the elements more than one’s own decisions. This is a place of quiet, a place of storm, steeped in a small history and yet still witness to present celebration.
The uncertainty principle is inherent in the properties of all wave-like systems
Even so, it’s important to set out
for the island.
Concentrate on the packing: chest waders
of course, waterproofs and woollens.
How much water you take
depends on the degree of drought.
Looking out of the window at home will tell you nothing
and weather forecasts aren’t to be trusted.
When you get to the quay, the river
will only tell you the state of the tide.
Go up to Hannafore and the noise
and restlessness of the sea will disturb you.
Look over to the island: it’s there, still,
untouched by the decades,
its edges slightly blurred
so that suddenly you feel unsure.
Remember the year when we waited for days
and never got across,
the sea in that strait
ridged like currogated metal?
Go back down. You won’t be surprised
when the thickset boatman stands there shaking his head.
You’ve seen the surf licking at Landing Beach,
whitening the Rannies, racing down from Talland.