Tuesday Poem: “Greece” by Sarah Jane Barnett


The wide estuary mouth is lazy. Spun with silt and clay,
unseen eddies ripple in from the ocean floor.

Into the lull a horse trips, submerged to his white splashed
throat – he is beautiful, dappled chestnut coat dark with sweat,

bulbous eyes like ripe, black mulberries
his knees pop the sea’s surface,
YYYYYYYYYYYhooves hurry for ground,
ears a tensile line along his neck. He lurches
YYYYYYYYYYYsucked under
out to open ocean, to surge – to surface, limbs
bolt and quiver, mane a beating wing,
pupils a blossoming cactus,
YYYYYYYYYYYhe tries to learn his sea-bound body
from memory born in muscle; the propeller kick
and pumping head are not yet his. As a child I heard
of sea eels, their larva leaves of flesh dispersed like seeds
of an idea. Transparent, they were a mystery to people, so unlike
eels they were.YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYFlowing for years
with the gulf stream, the glasseels filtered
beneath the Baltic sea, migrating on lucid currents to the Mediterranean.
They scrambled into the mouths of rivers
ten thousand slivers
YYYYYYYYYYYas fluent as water
over stones and between the detritus of branches,
they encountered, for the first time, sand and burrowing
through to higher inlets, gills and hearts
now visible, they pigmented
into the eels they did not know they were.

Look! people yelled, pointing down to the blue, clear ocean,
a horse swims.

My last three Tuesday Poems have all featured horses, so I thought I would post a poem of my own that features a horse. I wrote this poem in 2008, at a time when I was interested in how to create or represent movement in poetry. It was first published in Brief 39.

For more Tuesday Poems, check out the hub.

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: “Greece” by Sarah Jane Barnett

  1. Oh, Sarah, beautiful. So much to think about here. I must read it again when I have more time (right now: morning coffee, family not yet up, lunches made etc – time for a Tuesday Poem). I wonder if you’re writing poems now with a new baby under your wing…

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