Janet Lees is a poet and artist. She had two collections published in 2019 and her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world. Her poetry films have been selected for a wide range of international festivals and screenings.
On the first day
we viewed the island from above:
a lightning flower flung across the skin of the sea
under the burning eye of the sun.
On the second day, we approached it from the water,
observing aspects of permanence –
three years and four months an island now,
its shape shifting between evening and morning.
On the third day we walked it, measured its synthetic
drumlins, its rope beaches, its tightly woven coves,
weighed the miles of clouded water beneath our feet.
Earth of a kind. Sea of a kind.
On the fourth day we went down to meet
this land mass in its own twilight. Ghost nets reached out
to finger our hair, calling us to the mausoleum
of the island’s rusted underbelly.
On the fifth day, we saw the ocean swarm –
angelfish and rainbow runners twisting through drifts
of polymer confetti that playact as food,
feeding the very body of our island.
The sixth day we spent logging life.
A shore crab. Clams. An albatross in flight
off the western peninsular. We collected old eel traps,
scraps like pastel coloured sharks’ teeth
with which to make a necklace for the children.
We bowed our heads under the weight of that night’s stars.
And when the seventh dawn came,
we saw our work was done.
Third prize winner, Bristol International Poetry Prize 2016
Note: Discovered by Captain Charles Moore, Hi-Zex Island is made up of fishing gear, nets and buoys believed to have come from the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.
House of Water, Culture Vannin/Lily Publications, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-911177-54-8, £12.50
A bag of sky, Frosted Fire, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-9574129-4-1, £6.50
Tel: 07624 470941
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