Storm Force

The windows of the tight old houses bulge

Across the fishhead cobble, a rope that moors

The sea to a church with its back to the quay.

The sky is stuck fast in the tower tabs.

See now the worried wives, thronging and blocking,

Peering and peering through swollen glass

To watch the catch of bodies hauled uphill,

The dead from the sea laid out in the gate.

The lids of graves are hatches propped right up

By ancient seamen, peering and peering

Through swaying weed that hangs their bones and brows.

Sea pearls are lodged in the o of hope, and

Anno Domini is a rusted spar.

Stained-glass and shipwreck light in the church;

Heaven has rot, fish swim through the aisle interments.

Into the tide the bridge of the chancel twists.

In the tight houses panes writhe with faces.

A captain and a chaplain climb the street

Into a resurrection gale. Boats on sills

Dip stiffly. Children kneel, making

With their hands church roofs against drowning.