Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Dagan the fish-god was an important god of the maritime Canaanites, the Phoenicians. Early Roman traders came to the West Country to annex the tin mines and may well have used Phoenician galley rowers who may - perhaps - have brought their Gods with them...
"Who has not seen the scarus rise, decoyed and killed by fraudulent flies"
Marcus Valerius Martialis, Roman poet, fisherman and source of this first description of fly fishing.
Where the Teign descends from withy moorland,
quick under sloe and red berried rowan,
scrapes over grit into fly-whirling pools
- and slivers of brownies waggle and flit -
Martial the poet took twelve foot of silk,
a Hare's Ear nymph tied with feathers from Rome;
and with a neat flick put a hook in the lip
of the fish god Dagan - Dew of the Land -
a Merman in azure and olive scales
burnished as bright as a Lazio noon,
crowned with cassiterite, cloaked in the moon.
Swiftly unhanded he slipped the God back
into hollow water. Cold western winds
sucked up the sea into chough-feather clouds.
First published in The Broadsheet 10/2016
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Picture a pendulum;
the moon's patinated dial,
with each long sweep shifting
the ocean back and forth,
scraping seashell dust along
a mahogany floor.
Sea-tugged boats swing on their moorings,
rotating to a lunar beat.
Tethered to knotty trots regatta dinghies
founder and rise, levitating with the tide.
The ferry plies its trade across the harbour;
small queues grow and vanish on opposing shores.
Anglers arc bass lures overarm
then reel them back in, tangled with weed.
Returning house martins feel another pull
- that of a slower seasonal migration,
like the coach loads of summer tourists
who swell the bars in this seaside town
eating a cardiac of cod and chips,
banging empty pints on waspy tables.
Over the river the wealthy retired
shuttle from village shop to pharmacy,
until flashing blues block the street
while a doctor gently seeks a pulse.
A sea so calm it holds the stars
in yellow stains. And nearer,
on the cooling sand: two starfish,
in a lovers' kiss, left by the change.
The new tide unclutters the beach.
Morning wipes the stars from the sea.
These planes and circles mirror and repeat.
The grit of stars and shells grinds at our feet.
Published in Acumen, January 2017