A MULTIMEDIA DOCUMENTARY PROJECT ON THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION: THE LAST GENERATION TO REMEMBER A TIME WITHOUT THE INTERNET.
Done with the water,
its caulking past repair,
green paint flaking off boards
warped beyond mending,
the strakes too old
to keep the waves out
between herring station wharves
and deep sea fishing grounds,
the boat is now a roof
for a sheep shed.
Someone hefted it up,
fixed it to stone walls,
patched the worst leaks,
and cut away the stern
to make a doorway.
Now the shed’s front
is blunt as the head
of a sperm whale
and the keel-spined boat rises
like the ridged mound
of a Viking ship burial
where, inside the earth,
the longboat has now rotted away
that once contained
the dead chieftain
and gave form
to the grassy hill
Author's Note: Shetland has been nearly treeless for centuries, and wood was once so scarce that old boats were used as roofs for sheds or houses. “Boat Burial” is about this practice. “Ferry” is a ghazal, a form popularized in America by Agha Shahid Ali. The last line of each couplet must end with the same prepositional phrase, and the words before the repeating phrase must rhyme with each other. Ghazals were traditionally about either love or spirituality. This poem is about riding a ferry between two of the most Northern islands in Shetland, Yell and Fetlar. Near these islands is a small outcropping of rocks called Muckle Flugga, which is the last piece of land before the Arctic.
Fog combs down the heather, wrapping around the rocks,
unspooling across the bay and pouring into my hands.
North of the cliff-bound island we skirt, there’s nothing but water
until the pole; its unhindered winds sweep boreal in my hands.
Across the deck, birders watch for a red-necked phalarope.
I lift my binoculars. Waves loom and blur in my hands.
I lean into the sea-churned deck as we pull
towards the dock, the tug of the North in my hands.
|Katherine Robinson grew up in Maryland, near Washington, DC. She graduated from Amherst College in 2008 with a BA in English. She is currently an MFA student at Johns Hopkins University, studying with Mary Jo Salter. Between degrees she worked at a wildlife sanctuary in the Shteland Islands and at the Folger Theater in Washington, DC.|