March 1897, a rough winter turns
rougher. A mast-gnashing southwesterly
disrupts the balance between sea
and air. The horizon swirls, then vanishes.
Gale-force surges churn up 30ft waves,
haul chaos in their wake. Surf froths
like the wings of vengeful angels.
Hunkered down, in the lee of Lundy Island,
the Nornen heaves, trying to wait out
the worst. But, anchors dragging, the barque
is barrelled towards Berrow mudflats.
When mists clear, lifeboats launch
from the shore. Oars slice and pull
in a wind-whipped battle towards the Nornen.
Ten men and a dog are rescued.
The ship’s white sails a ragged tatter,
its floundering skeleton shudders,
and sighs into stillness on the beach.
Sometimes, on quiet nights, Norwegian shanties
echo again from the wreck’s sunken belly,
with its tidal cargo of sand, surf and sky.
In the early hours of a full moon,
the blackened timbers shake
with the lash and crackle of an unholy storm,
that wakes the depths and sets the coastline trembling.
Sarah James is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Website: www.sarah-james.co.uk.