By Sunk Island

By Eleanor Hooker


(A keen boatwoman and volunteer lifeboat helm, Eleanor wrote this poem following news of an eerie radio transmission from Saturn picked up by NASA – listen here:


We cut the engine

and drop anchor by Sunk Island.

We lie across the centre thwart

to inspect our bowl of sky.

A shoal of Perch

gently bumps our boat.


Above us, starlight is occluded

by a single shifting cloud.

I attempt to read ellipses,

but they’re of unequal length,

and in a code I cannot decipher.


You tell me the cosmos is not silent,

and I ask you what it’s saying?

Only coffin ships will reach us.

Grim, I say, gazing into the night’s gulf.


Stars blink their sequence –

the constellations are another puzzle.

You point at the night,

accuse one bright bulb of being Saturn,

ask if I would like to hear its song.


On your ‘phone we hear

a choir of countless souls

hum a fluctuating dead note,

a keening carried here on astral winds –

an air for Armageddon.


The song raises a curlew

from its nest – whose ancient call

is a solemn riposte.

We lie then, in crumpled silence,

as the star-struck lake sways beneath our boat.

 Image by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash.