‘On Visiting The Island of my Ancestors’ is Stephanie Conn´s latest poem.
Stephanie, who participated in the CAP workshop, said:
The poem was written after my first visit to Copeland Island, off Donaghadee, Co.Down, where my great-great grandparents (Esther and Richard Clegg) were both born and lived their whole lives.
I have been researching and writing about the island and my ancestors but this was the first time I made it across.”
On Visiting the Island of my Ancestors
Copeland Island, County Down
A hand gripped, then pulled, to lift my body
from the boat. My foot finds the moving metal
grille, slips on sea-green fibres. I watch my step.
The land is cushion-soft and punctured by rabbit holes.
The field by the shore sprouts patches of rigid grass
and bluebells. On the hill there is a scattering
of broken shell and bone. The skull of a small bird,
stripped bare, reveals teeth at the end of the beak,
eye-socket shaped spaces. The brain’s imprint remains.
A single step is enough the send a flock of black-
capped Eider duck to the sky, their green napes
flashing. Their cries are long and hoarse.
I taste salt at the back of my throat, raise cold hands
to my ears to drown out the screech the gulls
are making, keep clear of the south-facing cliffs;
the dive and swoop and squawk of them draws me in.
Exposed nests litter the rocks, soften the lichen-covered
ridges, hold blue-grey speckled eggs, in threes.
Five steps back, and silent, I watch one crack –
see shadows shift behind the splitting case, before
a tiny beak emerges – opens and closes, opens again.