‘The Eel’ by Hugh Dunkerley

The Eel
after Montale

Eel, siren of cold oceans,
quitting the Baltic for our seas,
our estuaries, our rivers,
coming up from the deeps,
nosing under the downstream surge
from tributary to tributary,
stream to stream,
wanting to get back inside,
to get to the heart of rock,
infiltrating rills of mud, until one day
light glancing off chestnuts
ignites her fuse in stagnant puddles,
in ravines cascading
from Appenine flanks to the Romagna;
eel, torch, whip,
arrow of Love on earth,
only our gullies,
our parched alpine streams
lead back
to the paradise of insemination;
green soul seeking life
where there is only drought and desolation,
the scintilla that says
everything begins again
when all seems burnt through,
reduced to a buried stump;
quick iridescence,
refracted now in unclouded eyes.
Sons of man, immersed in your mud,
can you not see she is your sister?
(first published in The Echo Room. Read L’anguilla by Eugenio Montale, here)
Hugh Dunkerley’s latest collection is Hare (Cinnamon Press). He lives in Brighton and teaches at The University of Chichester. He also writes short fiction, as well as academic essays on contemporary poetry and the environment. Twitter @Hughdunkerley1