Alwyn has been a university Philosophy lecturer, Editor of a journal, Chief Executive of two international NGOs and is now Managing Editor of Oversteps Books. Her poetry and non-fiction are published widely and she reads in Britain and abroad.
the restaurant was called la Matelote,
– the same word as le matelot
but ending in an ‘e’
and therefore feminine.
We debated what a female sailor
would be called in English
other than, of course,
a sailor –
‘fish wife’ hasn’t quite the same
éclat: shore-bound and down-to-earth,
she scolds her husband
wipes scale-covered hands on bloodied apron;
‘sailor girl’ sounds
far more jaunty, even saucy,
a jolly sea shanty of a lass
who’s good at knots, but lacks maturity;
a ‘woman of the waves’, though cumbersome,
has a more romantic ring,
laid-back and offering
her ebb and flow, her undulating curves.
In our minds these women all
transmogrified into a mermaid,
sea-born and always breaking free
like words for which there’s no equivalent.
Consulting a dictionary to check
the latest addition to our French vocabulary
we found ‘la matelote’
simply means ‘fish stew’.
Poem published in French Literary Review and ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 6
festo, 2012, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-32-8. £8.
touching earth, 2007, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-0-9552424-7-2, £8.
The People of God, 1995, Darton Longman & Todd, ISBN 0-232-51989-7, £9.95.
New Christian Poetry (ed), Collins, 0-00-599207-9, £7.95.
Life-Giving Spirit, 1989, SPCK, ISBN 0-281-04430-9, £7.95.
Beautiful Man, 1977, Outposts Publications, 90p.
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