19 May 2023
Living on the Edge
After Christopher Wood’s painting
‘Ship Inn’, Mousehole
Blocks of hand-blown stone
cried-and-hewn to hear the spume
of a gale tell the tale of its death.
Of the men who trod their plod before
on this bricked wall, ready to trawl
in quiet or squall, we know not beyond
their orphaned hounds who beg
for a keg of ale – they never heard
the strain of sail, the trail of a soul
fall fowl of waves. Trees on the hill
spill shadows thrilled to play
where harrows till the land and stand
proud that their bare branches have a place
in the grace of the artists’ eye even if,
like me, they’re at the periphery of things.
Behind the poem...
The Penwith Peninsula in Cornwall, of which Mousehole and its harbour are a part, has a special place in my heart because of a stay in a cottage there following a difficult time for me. That cottage is just about in view in Christopher Wood’s painting ‘Ship Inn’, Mousehole, which captures the village’s intimacy and reminds me of its harbour’s mesmerising walls. Those walls are one reason among many why I think of this area as a ‘place apart’ – somewhere I’ll forever associate with feelings of self-dependency.