(from The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas)
It’s a wild wet day in this tided town and it’s too cold to write.
Scarlet ants crawl from the holes in the rocks onto my idle hand.
The wind’s blowing hair across my face. I stare from this muddied
edge at the shapes of rocks carved in chaos by a tiddly sea.
Three broken masts stick up in the distance from a stranded ship
like nails in the breast of a wooden Messiah. O listen
to the near breaking of the heart as the sun peers for a tick
from its cloud & lights up the raggy sails of a fisherman’s boat.
O where are they now – the hundreds of rabbits I saw last night
as I lay in a field of buttercups and wrote of death?
Where’s the jawbone of the sheep that I wished could fit
into my pocket. Where’s the brown worm in my beer? O hell
to the wind for blowing these pages about. Woe to the sun
that he shines not. There’s no pattern, no purpose – just a torture
of words. A twisted vein of evil, like poison in a drinker’s glass,
coils from the pit to the top of this hemlocked world. O oracle
in the lead of my pencil, let me drop this customary clowning,
let me sprinkle onto this stolen paper some sweetheart words.
It was the Buddha who said, apart from not being born at all,
it’s best to die young. The only solution’s for someone to garrotte
me as I nibble at my vermicelli, else pour a little poison in my cup.
The wind’s blowing hair across my face. It’s too cold to write.
Maggie Sawkins has completed a number of online courses with The Poetry School including Dramatic Poetry, The Secret of Letters and What are the Rules and When can we Break Them? This poem was written in response to Kathryn Maris’s rule breaking exercise #2: ‘Beg, Borrow or Steal’. The lines are adapted from a selection of love letters Dylan Thomas wrote to his first love, Pamela, in 1934.
Maggie lives in Portsmouth where she teaches Creative Writing at South Downs College. She is the winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.