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Home*Arts in Scotland*Literature*Features*Archive*Poem July 2009
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Featured poem - July 2009

This piece of writing was selected by the staff at the Scottish Poetry Library who receive Foundation funding from the Scottish Arts Council


Breaking up the Cytherea

I heard her ribs crack beneath my hammer.
It was time.  I think she knew it too
but maybe hoped I’d let her stay,
repair the gaping seams,
go back to when we’d pull each other
further out and faster
till we found the dreaming edge
and balanced on a wave that meant
to take us under.

I let the hammer fall again.
Even though, just for a moment there,
I could have sworn she still looked perfect,
each curve smooth as when we met.
Funny, how the light twists sometimes,
in your eyes. It must have been the rain,
although I never felt it falling.

Afterwards, I stood there in the smoke
till there was nothing left of her but
splinters under my skin.

Claire Quigley

From Flarestack: Obsessed with Pipework, a quarterly poetry magazine. By permission of the poet.

A few words about the poem

My great-grandfather had a boat called Cytherea which he sailed around the Clyde coast and over to Ireland in his free time.   At the beginning of the First World War there was allegedly an order from the Government that all privately owned small boats had to be taken out of the water in case they were used by enemy agents (although I’ve never been able to track down any confirmation of this).  By the end of the war, however, Cytherea’s timbers were so badly warped and her seams split that having her repaired would have cost a great deal of money.   My great-grandfather couldn’t afford this and was forced to go down to the banks of the River Leven, where she was moored, and break her up and burn her himself.

About the poet

Claire Quigley was born in 1973 and was brought up in Renfrew.  She studied Computing Science at Glasgow University where she obtained a BSc and PhD, and is now working as a freelance photographer in Glasgow.   For two years she was a member of a Glasgow University Adult Education class in writing poetry taught by Donny O'Rourke, following which she was a resident on the Fielding Programme mentored by Polly Clark. She is currently part of the St. Mungo’s Mirrorball “Clydebuilt 2” group led by A.B. Jackson.     She has just been awarded an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary to travel to Venice to work on a project involving poetry and photography.  Claire Quigley

Related links
* Scottish Poetry Library
 
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