Caught by the River

Dappled things: a poem by Martha Sprackland

Martha Sprackland | 5th July 2018

for Louis & Felix

Why are so many born patterned –
the humbug tapir, the velvet boar,
the puma kittenish in tabby stripes
before they drop their finery
and are done up into a more sombre coat? –
as my nephews were born, both
with orchid skin, pink and cream on mauve ink-mackle
like mackerel sky at evening – settling
as the blood learned more, as they became solid –
so a knot of juvenile slow-worms
in their golden nest will writhe the go-
faster stripe from their dun flanks,
shuck it – and the pup blackbird’s mottle
eventually drops and makes way for the dark
plumage – its graduation robe or city suit –
more serious, it’s true – and more befitting of its age –
but with a brilliant blue and jade
still carried under the wing or eyelid –


Martha reads on our stages at this year’s Kaleidoscope and Port Eliot festivals.