I am becalmed in a deep sea
And give signals, but they are not answered.
And yet I see ships in the distance
And give signals, but they do not answer.

Am I a pariah ship, or a leper
To be shunned reasonably?
Or did I commit a crime long ago
And have forgotten, but they remember?

Into the dark night into darker I move
And the lights of the ships are not seen now
But instead there is a phosphorescence from the water
That light shines, and now I see

Low down, as I bend my hand into the water
A fish so transparent in his inner organs
That I know he comes from the earthquake bed
Five miles below where I sail, I sail.

All his viscera are transparent, his eyes globule on stalks
Is he dead? Or alive and only languid? Now
Into my hand he comes, the travelling creature,
Not from the sea-bed only but from generations,
Faint because of the lighter pressure,
Fainting, a long fish, stretched out.

So we meet, and for a moment
I forget my solitariness.
But then I should like to show him,
And who shall I show him to?

back to Stevie Smith.

ArtemisWorks 1997