Alyson Sarah Hallett – Two poems

Night Crossing

In the seamless night I wandered down to water
and found him waiting, sprawled in the bow
of a stolen boat. We’ve been here before, he said.

I clambered in, slipped the knot and rowed
past dock-side cranes, snoozing cormorants,
one vast tax-dodging ship called The World.

Ahead, a giant’s thigh rose up like a hill,
long, lean and muscular. Everything was quiet
except the barking lighthouse. Waves licked

the boat, the boat opened its mouth
and sang a song for no one to hear. We rode
the sea in the belly of that song and when Earth

tilted to the sun he started to disappear. I wanted
to go with him but my flesh was too dense. We’ve
been here before, he said, we’ll be here again.




I want to keep that first sighting
of a heron fishing in the Tiber

etch it into glass
so that when night comes

we can point a torch
project its slim shadow body

onto the wall. Light and shade,
a rain-rushed river, the way

the two of us stood on a bridge
and watched it fish.

We’ll say something
about the neck, reeled in

or stretched out
and the improbable strength

of those two pine-needle legs
pitched against the current.

How fishermen carried a heron’s
foot in their pockets for luck,

or scattered pieces in the water
as magic bait.




Alyson Hallett’s pamphlet Toots (Mariscat Press) is shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Poetry Award. Her publications and broadcasts include Chalk (BBC Radio 3), Walking Stumbling Limping Falling (Triarchy Press) On Ridgegrove Hill (Atlantic Press) and Six Days in Iceland (Dropstone Press). She collaborates with sculptors, artists, scientists and musicians. Since 2001 she has curated The Migration Habits of Stones, a project that involves taking stones around the world with a line of poetry carved into them. She lives near Bath and is a Royal Literary Fund advisory fellow.