Poems by Colette Bryce
A dozen roses delivered on the rocks,
yellow roses, edged in red
as though they were dipped
in blood or ink, stained pink:
a dozen sunset furls.
In a dream I descended the steps
and walked, unsteady, over wrack
and kelp like unspooled film,
onto loose shingle, sea-glazed rock.
Shorelines make waders of us all;
how we look and look,
the curved bill of our gaze dipping,
dipping, where tiny animations
wake us to life-forms in the pools.
The stems were streaked with russet,
neatly clipped at the ends
and bound with twine:
shop flowers, purchased in the town,
thorns blunt and leaves abundant.
The sea had rolled back
like a shutter to reveal a rinsed
and stony shore. Perhaps
they were thrown in to remember?
I ventured further; long strides
where jagged fingers tapered into tide
and great splashes of guano marked
where a flock had alighted
and flown; something
devoured, small translucent bones.
The roses were heavy, soaked, fresh
as though they had thrived
in the salt water, their colours alive
in the way sea-pebbles
gleam, intensify to gems,
in the way the world is vivid after rain.
Wrapped in a fold of newspaper,
they lay flat on the passenger seat
as I drove the clear roads
to the city, and you:
it happened to be your birthday.
The tide had offered up this gift.
In our kitchen, the roses
released their scent of the sea,
a sweet and salt bouquet.
Notes Towards a Portrait of the Lobster
He is blue for the copper in his blood.
In fact, he is a length of copper pipe, or rusted pipe,
a murder weapon. A murder weapon in a game
of Cluedo, Dalí Cluedo. Is he a phone?
Behold the heavily calcified armour:
like any warrior, he likes to take it off
and preen in front of a full-length mirror.
He is shedding his dark blue crust
like the soft unshelling of an egg under water.
Inky eyes protrude on nubs.
Long antennae taper like whips.
He advances across the ocean floor
on eight surprisingly dainty appendages.
His frontmost chelae are enormous cutlery:
one is for crushing, the other for cutting.
If you lift him, gingerly, under the limbs
and tilt him forwards,
the weight of his claws will render them
practically useless in the air.
They will hang like concrete boxing gloves
while the creature may be closely observed.
When the lobster retreats, he will lunge
backwards with a curling and uncurling
of the abdomen, known, in the business,
as the caridoid escape reaction.
Note the fanned, fringed tail.
When the female moults to a soft-shelled
interim, she becomes receptive
to him, the male. When she carries
her bright blue eggs on her pleopods,
she is said to be ‘berried’.
There are thousands of eggs.
Little is known of the young. It is thought
that they burrow down into fine mud.
Colette Bryce grew up in Derry, Northern Ireland, and is the author of four poetry collections with Picador, including The Full Indian Rope Trick (2004) and Self-Portrait in the Dark (2008). Her latest, The Whole & Rain-domed Universe (2014), was shortlisted for the Forward, Costa and Roehampton Prizes and winner of a special Ewart-Biggs Award in memory of Seamus Heaney. Colette was poetry editor at Poetry London from 2009-2013. She received the Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in 2010.
www.colettebryce.com (new website - will be live by November)