Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.
Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.
Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.
-- Carol Ann Duffy
Monday, November 17, 2008
Obs. Rockall, Malin,Dogger, Finisterre are all sea areas in the shipping forecast issued by the Meteorological Service, and broadcast by BBC Radio Four. The shipping forecast always follows a set pattern, a formalised routine. You can readthe current one at http://www.met-office.gov.uk/datafiles/offshore.html. Read it out loud and savour the words as they roll off your tongue! There's a map of the shipping forecast areas at http://www.met-office.gov.uk/leisure/shiparea.html. The broadcast goes out at 12.30 and 05.30, so that you tend to catch it if you can't sleep late at night or if you've woken up early, worrying - and then you follow the coast of the British Isles in your mind's eye and think of those working the dark sea areas, and sometimes you feel soothed.