Poem introduction

'The Cormorant' is dedicated to the one lonely male of the species that lives in the resort where I live. He's been there for years; he's never found a mate. I don't think there are any female cormorants around, but this is for him. I wrote this in the Café Schmidt in Amsterdam in a rainstorm in February 2002.

The Cormorant

The Cormorant

Don't think I don't know
who you are.
Not even the soul
takes such a trajectory,
not even the cruise missile
on its flyby of El Rashid Street
flies so flat, homing in
under the sea's radar,
and what are you anyway
but a deathstar flicked by a
warrior-saint, a penny pitched
at the busker's guitar-case,
its blue silks opened
like a street autopsy?

So don't think I'm afraid to say
you bring the dusk with you
and all the limestone twilights
between Gwter Cyrn y Locs and Gwter y Cwn.
dragging the west behind you
on fairground wings.

Because there's nothing else
that sounds like you and there's nothing else
that looks like you
and there's never been anything
that waits like you,
more patient than oil
in the departure lounges
under the sea-bed.

You're midnight's glove-puppet,
sentinel at the cavemouth,
something plumed and glassy-eyed
about you from the broom cupboard
of Porthcawl museum,
yet there you perch, on the capstan
by the quayside bodega
speaking the Arabic
of the corsairs, ventriloquist
of every cry that waits behind the dark.

Salt-water cockerel,
your oiled carcass floats
by the jetty. Is there no-one who
will sweep away your blood's
black videotape?

But here you come again,
stealth-bomber out of the empty
quarter, trailing your own death
across the sky, in your heart
the ashes of American astronauts,
your forgiveness one black feather
taking a lifetime to drift
down from the stratosphere.


copyright © Robert Minhinnick 2006, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Robert Minhinnick Reading from his poems

1St John's Sunflowers

2Sageflowers for Charles Saatchi

3The Yellow Palm

4Twenty Five Laments for Iraq

5Madonna in Porthcawl

6The Cormorant

7Paradise

8The Fox in the National Museum of Wales

9Eavesdropping

10Tickertape (from 'La Otra Otrilla')

11The Castaway

12Section from Lives of the Saint

Books by Robert Minhinnick