Vanishing Point

Martin Joseph O Neill

28 September 2020

Eleven Poets for Eleven Days

Wigtown Book Festival has asked Hugh McMillan, one of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Champions and a nationally respected poet from Dumfries & Galloway, to curate ‘Eleven Poets for Eleven Days’ for our 2020 festival. 

A poet from the region will be introduced daily, here on our website, along with a video reading of their specially commissioned poem.

Martin Joseph O Neill is the fifth poet in the series.

Vanishing Point

on the firth
where leaves too dry
for their brittle limbs drift
you are too far away
walking to where
the shape i
so used to
bends, blurs and blackens
to the other side
like rock on the lip
of a tide’s swell
your body waves
and i can’t remember
what i were
and you was
there isn’t anywhere

an end
but i heard
men drowned in looking
too far from the trees for it
so they tethered
their wrists to the rocks
all their wives, a lighthouse
their bread, bottle caps
and the blunt green pieces
seeds for the birds

when you get back
we won’t talk about it
your drifting to the half-black
end of elsewhere
we’ll go to our houses
your bread, your lighthouse
your family, a name
driftwood untethered
floating in the firth

Martin Joseph O Neill

Martin is a writer and public artist based in Dumfries, Scotland. He is a curatorial member of the Stove Network in Dumfries and is co-founder of Brave New Words. Martin is currently working towards his debut collection, and is set to release an audio play later this year that he wrote and directed.

Martin was shortlisted for the 2020 Wigtown Poetry Prize.

Here Martin evokes a dreamy and haunting vision of loss among the driftwood and swell of the Solway. A thoroughly contemporary poem but a timeless one and a beautiful melding of sound and space.