“Worse Things Happen at Sea” by Jennifer O’Kelly

The way the rock-pools hold the dawn
after the waves have gone
and left them
wet, and wanting
says something to me
about worth,
about salt.

And I struggle to think
that the cliffs feel much fault
in towering endless over absence
as rough tides
lap their lust into crevices
every time
they rush out,
and rush in.

The whole of the landscape
is writhing with sin
and the signs of slow healing.
rolling out with backs bent,
as though reeling
towards the touch of passing winds,
while the wildflowers
whisper their warmth to the limbs
of the creatures who fell them.

And what about you?

Should it matter,
if you smatter salt to my wounds?
As I arch to the harsh curves
of these shores,
moved by rock pool reflections,
and all that they store:
The affections that stay.

The strength of the oceans
could not wash away the dark slopes
of this longing.
By which I mean to say
that we are no tidal exception,
and that worse things happen at sea.


Jennifer O’Kelly is an Irish poet originally from Cork. She holds a Masters degree in Philosophy and is interested in the work of Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen, among many others. This is her first publication.