I am an earthbound creature.
Air and water trouble me,
and yet the call of the sea is strong.
Cargo ships, bills of lading,
dwindling docks draw me
in polar inevitability.
Coffin ships, flags of convenience,
a fascination of words.
I read the Derbyshire saga
like a familiar dog-eared book,
I who never sailed a boat
nor learned to swim.
What salt-blooded ancestral veins
produced me?
Not the first Arthur Merton
who drowned at Jutland.
Plucked from the heart of a Midland shire
and pressed in time of war,
he tossed on the icy water
and sank.

Generations of farmers,
known by name,
stretch back to 1492.
a by-blow lurks among them,
learning to hide his webbed feet
in farm boots.

Diane Jackman

This poem was shortlisted for The Poems Please Me Prize 2015

Diane Jackman’s poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies; winner of Liverpool, Deddington poetry competitions and Café Writers Norfolk prize, librettist for ‘Pinocchio’ (Kings’ Singers/LSO), author of seven published children’s books and many stories.