Michael Ray

The Auk-House

She digs a circle into the hill 
overlooking the pier and horse-shoe cove, 
a foundation-ring of pebbles and rocks 
pounded flat with a water-logged plank.

She fillets mackerel dries each spine, 
presses them into the earthen floor;
threads haddock and cod on long willow sticks 
builds a tower, five fish thick,
covered in carrageen, wood-ash and clay. 

With the back of a spoon she rubs the walls, 
exposes a constellation of eyes, 
cuts out a moon-window facing the sea, 
pricks, with a whitethorn, nine hundred scales, 
stitches and hangs them with strands of her hair, 
to make up a mirror and scatter the light. 

On the beach she gathers six ribs from a whale, 
cobbles them into a frame for the roof; 
tempts two seals with buckets of fish, 
removes their skins with a razor-sharp knife, 
covers the rafters to keep out the night. 

The beak of an auk tied overhead, 
turns on its shadow into the tide
as she lies inside, on a bed of brown kelp, 
closes her eyes, head full of him, 
thinks back to the morning they kissed on the quay, 
and she watched and waved as the wake of his boat 
spread all the way to the edge of the world, 
to the end of the world.

Michael Ray is a glass artist living in West Cork. His poems have appeared in: The Moth, Asylum, Poetry 24, The Irish Independent, The Shop, Cyphers, and The Bare Hands Anthology. In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Poetry Prize, and won second prize in the Fish poetry competition. In 2013 he was shortlisted for the Hennesy award.


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