in memory of Dylan Thomas
How odd, after all these years
to return to the boathouse as the dawn mist
rises ghostly as a lapwingâ€™s heart-cry
to lure daybreak from the grieving dark,
and catch the ghost of you out on the mudflats
in your old tweed coat
whelking for poems:
my beast, my angel, my fat little fool.
On these tidal reaches
Where Taf, Towy and Gwendraweth
meet and boats lie beach in
a silver throat of brackish water,
I danced barefoot, gathered cockles
In the hem of my long skirt, salty vulvae
to boil in a broth for you on the black iron stove.
At night, in our pink bedroom
you sucked me clean amid a musk
of winter apples, spilt bottles of ale.
Rats scuttled in the privy. Bath-time
Iâ€™d lay out dolly mixture in the soap tray,
scrub your plump babyâ€™s back.
Unruly children we clung together
in an adult world. But with the rage,
the drinking, an innocence was lost.
That morning I found you dying across
an ocean, they strapped me in a straitjacket
for smashing the hospital crucifix.
Still I see your curly head against
the regulation pillow. Those little
fin-like hands curled on the white sheet.
Â© Sue Hubbard, from Everything Begins with the SkinÂ (Enitharmon, 1995)
Picture 12549520, photograph by Philip Dunn, 1988, image copyright Mary Evans / Philip Dunn
Sue Hubbard is an award-winning poet, novelist and freelance art critic, with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She is twice winner of the London Writers Competition, with a third prize in the National Poetry Competition. Her publications includeÂ Everything Begins with the SkinÂ (Enitharmon),Â Ghost Station,Â The Forgetting and Remembering of AirÂ (Salt), andÂ The Idea of IslandsÂ (Occasional Press).Â Swimming to Albania, her fourth collection, was published by Salmon Press in 2021, and her fourth novel Flatlands is due from Pushkin Press in 2023. Twenty of her poems were included in An Anthology: Carcanet 2000. Her poetry has been recorded for The Poetry Sound Archive, read onÂ Poetry Please,Â The VerbÂ andÂ Front Row, and appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, as well as inÂ The Irish TimesÂ andÂ The Observer. She has published a collection of short stories,Â Rothkoâ€™s RedÂ (Salt), and two novels,Â Depth of FieldÂ (Dewi Lewis) andÂ Girl in WhiteÂ (Cinnamon Press), for which she received a major Arts Council Award. Her third novel,Â Rainsongs, was published in 2018 to great critical acclaim fromÂ The Guardian,Â The Irish Times,Â The Irish IndependentÂ andÂ The Jewish Chronicle, among many others. It is also published by Overlook Press, US, Mercure de France and Yilin Press, China. As an art critic she has written regularly forÂ The Independent,Â Time Out,Â The New StatesmanÂ and many leading art magazines. Her selected art writings,Â Adventures in Art, are published by Other Criteria. As The Poetry Societyâ€™s only Public Art Poet, she was responsible for Londonâ€™s largest public art poem, â€˜Eurydiceâ€™, in the IMAX tunnel at Waterloo, commissioned as part of the South Bank regeneration.