I went to north wales with my kayak at the weekend and went out in dangerous conditions. Here's the poetic account of that:
Ferocious winds shrieked shanties
as they battered on the wavetops
of the madly swelling waters
of the dragging ebbing tide.
They threw me in my fragile shell.
They threw me high and far,
as though a creature in its shell
thrown on their mercy.
Alternate sun and clouds bore down.
the wind and crests came faster yet
they cracked across my pitching bow
and smacked into my face.
All the time, that boiling sun,
the sun so hotly burning me
warmed the plankton on the waves
but the sea stayed icy cool.
A wave from out of nowhere turned
and into its hurling wash I was twisted
and turned the whole way under and back
saved this time around.
That day at sea, I battled on.
Frightened and alone I fought,
I battled with the fearful swell
one solitary soul.
Alone against ferocious winds
and not another soul in sight,
only one soul on board on my craft
I felt invincible.
Waves stood taller now than I;
the waters ganged and crowded in,
I kept but half a mile from shore –
half more than I should.
White the spray blistered and froze
my cheeks were white with crystal salt
no person walked upon the front
the day too fierce for that.
To my aft an errant wave
rolled me down into the brine
upside down I bobbled around
unable to roll back up.
I pulled the tab of the spray skirt
(it didn’t budge a single inch),
the drag of the rapidly ebbing flow
was pulling me out to sea.
At last the neoprene gave way,
I swam from out my upturned boat,
but on the madly stirring swell
I couldn’t climb inside.
Six times I tried to climb inside,
dragged as if by the unseen hands,
hands of drowned sailors I’d see
one day in Fiddler’s Green.
I placed the paddle in the craft
weighty with water it took on board
and grasped the toggle on its bow;
one-hand, I tried to swim.
The mocking of the sea birds calls,
water smacking at my head,
the taste of saline in my mouth
and some will to live,
I fought the current for so long –
so long the day was shutting closed –
the evening was upon me now,
I was lost at sea.
Dragging me out to join with them,
were spirits of drowned seafaring men
and all the while I fought with them
and the outgoing tide
Being a soul lost, hopelessly alone
brought familiar comfort to me,
alone against the slapping waves –
all I’ve ever known.
Darkness was dropping, I was swimming,
the clouds were threatening from the hill,
the sea birds all had left for home,
l battled on alone.
Every one-armed stroke I struck
would move me several inches on
and every curling waves regress
would undo every stroke.
Each ounce of strength within me now
was tested as it fought for life,
and all the things I value most:
taunting pictures of home
The only car I could see, parked
up by that empty promenade
contained my life, my phone, my keys,
my identified corpse.
One foot-! One foot was all I needed,
one toe to touch the pebbled bed,
one toe to push on solid land...
but no, it was too deep.
I started seriously to consider
that all the things I’d ever done
were all the things I ever would
and I would do no more.
Today would be the day when I
would leave this lonely world behind,
and who would miss or mourn that much
a solitary soul?
My thoughts themselves had said goodbye
and given up their endless humming;
my arm, oblivious, carried on
as though it wasn’t told.
The feet kicked on like idiots,
and tested the ground beneath their toes.
The stones abraded on my feet,
then I could walk to shore.