Two poems by Sarah Hymas

Whale-boned Corset and Other Relics

How I loved the net flaring around my thighs,
blue smocking smoky organza
into fingertip deep slots
of mussel black nibbling my chest.
The power of an unscrutinised body.
I was the dress. And so, the loch
biting my arms as I exalt
its sting of marbled August, cutting
my fingers as they pull through
resisting cold—remote luxury
for the nicked and wrapped palms
of those girls gutting and rousing herring.
Scales tip between us—between profit and
water—between herring and cod, ploughed
with gunmetal and the slippery tongue
of empire: big fish eating little fish
eating our own cellular change.
Even the black gridlines of salmon cages
moored further up the loch
will away, on the fluke of cheap nature
which is inevitable disbelieved ignored.
To pull on this is to feel already a memory
a fraying seam of two seas colliding.

(previously unpublished)

Holding (Fishing Baulk)

Whether I begin at the lighthouse or inland at Plover Hill

if the first hole was cast by hand between rocks

once larger, less barnacled, more musseled,

in the middle of a slab of pink bedrock that erodes faster out of the water
than in (look to the keeper’s cottage for proof)
I do not know.

I continue as a constellation of holes
shallow openings

pauses in the ground
interrupted by broken stakes

(the height of fossilised shins: of ankles: of lugworm debris)
uprights for willow fencing no longer held.

Each pause a different length, marking

a curve of receptacles
also filled with water: air: algae: grit: mud
when the tide’s shrunk. How much a body can hold.

Today the invisible is in relief.

Ancient monument of a thousand holes:
memorial of absence: woven branches: fish
(I am the fish that got away): a singular bright eel.

Absence is what makes me.

I hold the story, despite tide, passed between tides

between old man with walking stick (who is this place’s son) and newcomer
woman in love with this stretch that’s a receptacle itself.
(I receive it and)

I keep alive
King John’s generosity, the lepers, and monks claiming impregnation
is worse than murder.

I cross channels scrabbled out of rock piles

walled and gated to stop sluicing from the dug-out pond.
I hold the thrashing salmon, flounder and trapped plaice

no longer here.
I hold the plankton unseen in water-plugged hollows
that may still be here.

I am overlooked by men repairing the lighthouse, for whom a hole
is something to fill.

A delay of stakes
of broken wood, rotting with weed, some sawn short,
guy-roped to this greybrown baulk: closer to the moon

than tomorrow, I am the assumption
of tidal flow.

I withhold: take hold:

refuge: drilling half a kilometre: eight hundred years.

Weightless (of course)
yet weighted with all that came before. I am as water carries itself.

I know as water.

Silent as holes balancing the story.

(previously published in Tenebrae 1, Fathomsun Press, Autumn 2017)

Sarah Hymas lives by Morecambe Bay, England, working as a poet and researching a PhD on intimacy and the sea. Her writing appears in print, multimedia exhibits, as lyrics, installations, short films and on stage. She also makes artistbooks and immersive walks. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Ivan Juritz Award for Creative Experiment and her artistbook Wave Motion was featured in the TLS.