Abigail Ottley

Ottley (formerly Wyatt) writes poetry – and some short fiction – from her home in Penzance in Cornwall. Since 2009, her work has appeared in more than 150 journals, magazines and anthologies including The Blue Nib, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Atrium Poetry and Words With Jam. She was also one of the poets featured in Wave Hub: new poetry from Cornwall (2014) edited by Dr Alan M Kent and published by Francis Boutle. In 2019, 12 of her poems were translated into Romanian for Pro Saeculum and Banchetul. For this, much gratitude to translator and bilingual poet, Mariana Gardner. In the same year, Abigail’s poem ‘Bull Male, Sleeping’ was chosen for ‘Poems on the Move’ at the Guernsey Literary Festival. (formerly Wyatt) writes poetry – and some short fiction – from her home in Penzance in Cornwall. Since 2009, her work has appeared in more than 150 journals, magazines and anthologies including The Blue Nib, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Atrium Poetry and Words With Jam. She was also one of the poets featured in Wave Hub: new poetry from Cornwall (2014) edited by Dr Alan M Kent and published by Francis Boutle. In 2019, 12 of her poems were translated into Romanian for Pro Saeculum and Banchetul. For this, much gratitude to translator and bilingual poet, Mariana Gardner. In the same year, Abigail’s poem ‘Bull Male, Sleeping’ was chosen for ‘Poems on the Move’ at the Guernsey Literary Festival.

BLOODWORM IN WINTER

  The fish are my stories. Not 
 all of them are pretty.
  
 Not the dancing tench or
 the lady of the stream
  
 the shimmering, lipstick-painted 
 grayling
  
 but carp and bream and
 the fearsome barbel
  
 the bony-headed, slant-toothed 
 pike.
  
 Monsters and predators stir 
 my silted depths
  
 where corpses hook their
 fleshless fingers.
  
 Now there is a thawing and
  the ice gives way.
  
 Fish rise torpid
 to the bait. 

THE TURNING YEAR

 Strangers in this spare, treeless landscape at the fag-end of 
 a half-hearted summer 
 we turn our backs on our home-grown ire. 
 We are looking for an interlude of peace.
  
 So, an hour before sunset we pull on our boots and set off 
 in the early evening sunshine.  
 The light paints you golden like a saint or an angel 
 softening the tracks in your face.
  
 Late swallows have gathered here to swoop and dive 
 after cattle flies that buzz a twilight blessing.
 Hedgerow brambles thick with fruit are 
 flecked with yellow and red.
  
 In a break in the weather our hearts dream of spring 
 but welcome in the spirit of deep winter.
  
 Our little dog is barking, pulling at his leash.
 His sturdy legs will carry him ahead. 

SURVIVING AN UNNAMED STORM

 (After Ted Hughes, A Golden Shovel)
  
 I’m wondering what fresh hell is this
 that batters at the peace of my old house.
 Many nights I have lain sleepless while my heart has
 trembled, shrunk into dark and dusty corners. Has been
 prompted to such stirrings as  might push it too far
 might snuff its tiny candle right out.
  
 What is death but the snapping shut of a slatted blind at
 twilight? After the hurricane, a flat, winking sea
 erases the fate of those brightly painted vessels, all of them pretty as you like, all
 disappeared, salty and spinning, lost in the dark. Can there be an end to this night? 

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