Billy Fenton – Seaweed

Billy Fenton writes poetry and short stories. His work has been published in the Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Bangor Literary Journal, Crannog, Galway Review, and others. He was shortlisted for a Hennessy Award in 2018, and was awarded a Words Ireland mentorship in 2019.


Daddy walked among the rockpools, bent down
from time to time, tore loose a clump of seaweed,
stuffed it into a Dunne’s Stores bag.

Next morning from my bedroom, 20 miles inland,
I looked out, and on the flat roofed shed just below,
rows of seaweed drowning in the sun.

A few days later, he handed me a piece.
I placed a smidgen on my tongue; salty attack,
like ingesting the sea, spat it out, gulped for air.

I watched him package it carefully into paper bags.
He took it to the pub, where he and his friends ate it,
washed it down with pints of porter.


We have sailed to Inishbofin, and it’s too late
to return. Street lights flicker on the shore,
the final glow of red over the Derryveagh Mountains.

Maggie, a woman you knew from the mainland,
feeds us spuds and milk topped with a fried egg,
tells us gossip we’re not meant to hear.

Here’s your room, she says. You sleep on the single bed,
me on the floor. The room is full of sacks of seaweed.
Like sleeping on the bottom of the sea, you say.

I wake at dawn, breathe in the sea, look at you above me,
drown under the breath of you, and like the first fish
emerging out of water, I crawl in with you.


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