And Came Jacqueline

Chris Preddle

[Second Place, Strokestown International Poetry Awards 2012]

And came Jacqueline inland to a seagreen porch
in Holme, riverlass of the Greenock shipyards
or holme, naiad
of the Clyde and Bert’s café on the Esplanade.
As the tide came in, shallows and shoals disappeared
and she would gain no purchase.

And came like Thetis inshore, broke open
the sea-roof, breached the suff and surface
of the sea-tiles. Did it not suffice
her sea-children died young, like sea-wrack broken up?

And came inland to a mere pond
in Holme, though even a garden pond, a little
tadpole pool may serve
to reflect a view of the mighty reservoir
under Twizle Head moor. Came to a lily-
pond and opened
in the sun, nymph
of the cream and white swimming Nymphaeas.

And came a colleen of Caryae, arty caryatid
who upheld the porch
of the sky.
pressed on her aortic arch,
oppressed the columns of her carotid artery,
such pressure all through
from the very fillet and embroidered band
of Sardis in her hair
to a slender
such a burden should have overborne her,
bent her with a Grecian bend.
For what she suffers heart’s-longing eats me through.

And came to a Pennine upland
unlit in the clouds. Cloud
the sheep, grass and ploughland
and the Holme Moss high transmitter of knowledge
whose monitory red
mast lights could not be read
for the low cloud. And acknowledged
in the cloud of unknowing, ‘do that in thee is’,
and she would,
for ‘all the devils go crazy, alle feendes ben wood
when you do this.’

And came to a hinterland, a mind-and-heartland
of moors, which loomed like headlands
on the Clyde, hardly moored
to their coast. I might have once my self unmoored
coastwise; Celtic, I am of sea people
whom the sea impels
to its edge. And came landways to Holme
where the moors overloomed
like all the Clyde’s warships for once made lame
in their sea-holme.

And had come Jacqueline to Rake Lane
for bluebells, in a pinafore
made plain for wartime, Persephone
descending. How many there were, in a rickrack line
on a hem of the wood. O Jacqueline,
humour us
with a slender ankle, they called who lived in humus.
Had come where came every Jack of the line.

And had come Jacqueline to Rake Lane
for may-thorn; its branchy white-flowered arms and legs
in the wind, as a dead Christ might recline
on a marble lap. Had come
where Rake Lane went raking down to a wood. My lady, May lady,
we are all made
may figures here, and whiten the underwood to which we have come.

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