I put on my body armour of black rubber
the absurd flippers, the grave and awkward mask.
The salt is on the briar rose. The sea howl and
the sea yelp are different voices. I go down
an innocent ladder. Where is there an end
to the drifting wreckage the silent withering
of autumn flowers dropping
their petals and remaining motionless?
First having read the book of myths
I come to see the damage we’ve done
trying to unweave, unwind, unravel.
Yes, we believed that the oceans were endless
surging with whales, serpents and mermaids
there is no end but addition the trailing
prayer of the bone on the beach where we heard
consequences of further days and hours
demon-haunted and full of sweet voices
while emotion took to itself the emotionless
years of living among the breakage
to lure us over the edge of the world. We were
conquerors, pirates, explorers, vagabonds;
years of living among the breakage, war-makers,
sea-rovers, we ploughed what was believed in
as the most reliable, made maps that led others
to the sea’s harvest and therefore were the fittest
for renunciation and sometimes we heard dolphins
whistling, older than the time of chronometers.
Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing
into the wind’s tail, where the fog cowers?

We cannot think of a time that is ocean-less.
The catch was good and the oceans endless
for a haul that will not bear examination.
Where is there an end of it, the voiceless wailing
the backward look behind the assurance
towards the primitive terror?

1 Helen Dunmore, Dolphins Whistling: T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets: Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck.

© 2020, Eric Nicholson

Eric Nicholson is a retired art teacher who lives in the NE of England.


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

One thought on “Cento

Kindly phrased comments welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.