‘George Aiken’s Map, 1846’ by Jean Atkin

George Aiken’s Map, 1846

As if these paper islands
were crumpled in a ball
and crushed and
into backlit rain
and rolled
before a filthy wind –

she wrings the sheet
and smoothes it
with strong palms, as if
next she’d iron these wet
and whalebacked hills –

as if a capsized gale
ripped up wet paper
and melted it to rags,
the broken coast bursts
headlong out of spray –

rain-soaked at Sumburgh
George loses his grip
on a rope –
feels the pitch
slide him, helpless,
and no longer young,
into the sea’s hold.

(from Lost at Sea, Roncadora Press, 2011)
Jean Atkin has three pamphlets published: The Treeless Region (Ravenglass Poetry Press) and Lost At Sea and The Dark Farms (both Roncadora Press). She has a first collection forthcoming from Oversteps Books in 2013. She has just moved from Scotland to Shropshire.