I wrote this poem after spending two hours in a gallery in Vienna looking at a painting by Lisa Yuskavage of two women on a cliff top. The poem was a commission for Art World. Alcyone is a mythic figure, the daughter of the guardian of the winds. She jumped to her death off a cliff when she heard that her husband had died in a shipwreck.


On an unfenced cliff, frightened
at the edge, in a million
silverfish of rain, I found
my sister Alcyone.
To me, it was just sand
crowning, a bitten earth
on which silt has built
for eight thousand years, an inch
a month. Still builds. She listened
to gulls whittle the neediness
of quiet. She watched a ship
slip into pearl while sunset
picked up importance. Look,
how brown bracken squats,
prickles with fragility
under squalls that dig into
the shoulder muscle of gusts. Gusts
coil and bounce to tower beyond
all elastic limits – young winds.
Young winds, I think like you.
I’m not over that hour.

from Mollicle (Nine Arches, 2010), © Claire Crowther 2010, used by permission of the author

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