This week, to celebrate the launch of Maytree 003, we are delighted to feature not one but two poems by Holmfirth based author, Tim Taylor. The two poems have been chosen because one made the cut and the other, sadly, didn’t. We still believe, however, that The Cowrie Shell deserves a greater audience and we are delighted to be able to feature it in the Village. Personally I really like the Cowrie Shell but unfortunately we just couldn’t make it fit in the collection – the tough choices of poet and editor! So now we like to think of the Cowrie Shell as the hidden track of Sea Without A Shore and it’s only right that we feature it alongside the key track in the pamphlet. Pioneer holds the clue to the title of the collection and inspired the choice of cover art which features the painting, Changing Light by Saltaire based artist, Paula Dunn.
You can purchase Sea Without A Shore on-line from our own Village Shop or, if you’re anywhere near Holmfirth on the 2 July, direct from Tim at his forthcoming launch event at Holmfirth Library.
The Cowrie Shell
“Just chuck ‘em in the skip,” she said
as if each object in that box
were not once part of me:
attached by long sinews of stories,
fed by flimsy arteries
through which a child’s heart
once pumped them full of meaning.
The box took them when life moved on.
Now lifeless, so I thought
but peeling back the cardboard
I could sense the gasps for air.
Each object in its turn cried out;
the child in me woke up
and would not let them go.
Among the marbles and the model cars
I found a cowrie shell: smooth, mottled,
exuding still the faintest smell of salt.
“You remember me,” it said
– that holiday in 1969”. I felt
a flickering of what seemed like recall.
I dug deep for that memory,
found it rotted by the years.
I steeled myself, obeyed
the pitiless reminder:
“you cannot keep them all.”
Not quite big enough to be an ornament,
if fitted better in a smaller hand.
I put it down: out fell a single grain of sand.
Humans made me
with exquisite care, but then, in fire
and violence, thrust me far away.
Obedient, I spied on giants,
sent my postcards home.
No more: their Earth
has long winked out of sight,
their Sun – a dot among its sister stars.
I am silent now: my masters
cannot see or hear me,
nor I them. Still, I travel on
bringing their message
to anyone in this infinity of black
who might yet care to see.
There being no one
I have found a purpose of my own:
to navigate this sea without a shore
to ride its tides, explore its nothingness,
to understand the nature of the void.
It lends perspective:
One day – not far away
by the eternal standards of this place –
humans, their Earth and all trace of it
will have folded into time.
Except for me: I travel on
bearing their image on my side
until swallowed by a star
or by the end of everything.
(Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter, lost contact with Earth on January 23, 2003. It is now thought to be 11 billion miles away. It carries a plaque with pictures of a man and woman.)
Tim Taylor is a Holmfirth based author who has previously published two novels. Sea Without A Shore is his debut poetry pamphlet. Visit our shop here
Image: Changing Light by Paula Dunn. Found out more here