PoetrySummer 2018

sea mat – Anna Cathenka

Eventually she has to take a brush to it
a fine, dainty brush
to uncover the network of bryozoa
spread like a lace on the surfaces
of the stones and rocks and also
of the sea-shells and crabs
and fronds of seaweed. She strokes
away the black, slime tar bit
by bit. It isn’t always easy
to tell apart the thick
oil from the dense colony
of the sea mat. It is hard to clean
a tanker of it from a beach
with a brush. Each little
stroke, though, contributes to
the overall effect. Finally she finds
the oil has almost gone and that
if more should wash up
she knows she could deal with it.
Which is a lifeworn kind of confidence
to have, but it does the trick.
Each individual in the sea mat
colony has its own little chamber
of limy or horny material. Each has a mouth
surrounded by a circle of tentacles.
Each can retire into its cell or project
from its opening – she finds that
a useful metaphor to give, especially
after the oil spill.


Author Bio: Anna Cathenka is the 2017/18, Ink, Sweat & Tears scholar for the MA Poetry at UEA in Norwich, UK. Her first pamphlet, Dead Man Walking, will be published this year with New Fire Tree Press. Her series Prayerbook for Tree was recently released by Smallminded Press. Anna’s writing has appeared in International Times, X-Peri, The Clearing and Partisan Hotel amongst others. She has performed her collaborative project Polar Bear Drag Kings with poet Sarah Cave at the experimental reading series Anathema at Bristol’s Arnolfini and as part of S J Fowler’s The Enemies Project. Anna can be found online @annacathenka

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