Trawling for souls | Julie Maclean

after The Unthanks interpretation of ‘Shipbuilding’ by Costello and Langer

I want to thank them for tumbler pigeons

nesting in the ribs of my history

for drumming melancholy Sundays

into my heart before I had a heart

and knew what a heart was for

I want to thank them for whispering

through vintage lips—

the promise of a mother for an orphaned selkie

the humble jazz of a shipwrecked father

for shivering loose the hunger then the floods

for peeling back the skin

of an Elvis song to its heartbreak core

for the first mackerel I ever hooked

from a timber skiff in an oily drift—

the keen-eyed sheen, the reek of it, the blood

for a lungful of shanties, a swallow of cider

a blackened room with nothing but ears

for minor chords and elegies

for sound waves lapping in simple time

these raw, broken shores

Julie Maclean’s poetry, fiction and reviews have appeared in The Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings, The Best Australian Poetry, Cordite Review, Island, Overland, Poetry (Chicago), Rabbit and Southerly. She is the author of four pamphlets and one full collection, When I saw Jimi.

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