Poetry inspired by Marabu and Kestrel

Night at Sea

Only the stars above to pierce the dark

Scattered like crystals in a velvet dome;

Only the gossiping burble of the waves,

The sighing sails that urge me far from home.

The tiller creaks; the crew snore soft below;

A distant buoy sounds forth its mournful toll:

Sounds to attend my solitary watch

And swell the harmony in my soul.

Along the hull the phosphorescence streams

Like fishes' rippling scales or mermaid's hair;

A lustre, like the stars to emphasise

The endless stretching darkness everywhere.

And then the faintest glow of yellow light –

Not constant, but an intermittent loom.

Land must be near. And soon the brightness grows

Till bands of light sweep skywards through the gloom.

For hours, it seems, I watch the light ahead

Heeding the message that its flashes send,

Till further pricks of light reveal the shore.

My first night Channel crossing nears its end.

Sally Heddle, 1996




Hair thin crescent in the sky

Pale thread, a silver skein of light.

Spindrift curling green and red

Arcs past tossing, dipping bow

Falls on phosphorescent sea

Grey foam streaks the blackest depths.


Silhouettes of sailors, spars and sheets 

Curves of leech and gunwales, jib as well 

Roller coaster through the troughs 

Sense of silent power and speed 

World made up of glorious curves – 

Secret place where few have found.


Geometry of nature in the sky 
Pointers and the Pole Star mark our way 
Cygnus triangles shine in space 
Swan glides ghostly on the cushion 
Jewel encrusted dark, dark blue 
Ceiling of our world.


Nowhere in that world more beautiful 
Nowhere in that world I’d rather be 
And miss the wonder of this curving, coloured time.

The only lines are straining shrouds 
A boom and one charted pencil course 
Fecamp to Brighton in the night.


Gordon Tuffnell, 1990