Ariadne on Broughty Ferry Beach

Ariadne on Broughty Ferry Beach
Ariadne sleeping in the stomach of the strand
curled in her turtleshell of purple silk
surrounded by declivities, the left hollows
of youths and maidens, the close dip that was
her lord, the sandstuck embers that perfumed
the dark she’s dreaming in, that sticky net,
curled like a coracle on
the shipabandoned bay.
Something like a beak
is wakening in her upper jaw, the skin grins back,
something like a hairy branch is stabbing from
her ribs, her belly bloats and blotches like
a drowned dog, a starving child;
tarred and caulked, blackening her dreamy flesh
rolls little, crackling legs and spitting hairs
quivering, airpained; her lids balloon
as eyes split into eyes split into eyes.
The vine
of metamorphosis has taken her,
the divine tree grows in her and out of her
as Dionysus smiles and wipes his chin, stirring
the silk with a tipsy foot, leaving her
to wake to her desertion
to the reflective lap of waters.
W. N. Herbert

from New Writing Scotland 5 (Association of Scottish Literary Studies, 1983)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
W. N. Herbert

A poet of great variety, equally at home in Scots and English, W.N. Herbert’s work draws from tradition and contemporary culture to create poems of humour, sentiment and ideas.

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