Patricia McCarthy

Tristan’s Visit to Iseult


I am coming over sea-mountains
with skins of longings and sights
of untellable things for your cauldrons.

The distant thunder is my precursor,
warning of anxiety somewhere. The sky
is trying to obscure me in its glowers.

Yet the cuckoo is on my side,
commentating on my position in the odds
against me. One remark it confides

repetitively, though you know I am making
progress on fishes’ routes, now and then
in the leas offered by Neptune resting.

Every league I navigate will ask
how you are, every fathom between bedrock
and surface for you labour. If I could,

I’d twist the flying peaks like ears
so they fall down at your feet as if
from vultures’ beaks with gifts of lace

and cheeses. You will have to make do
with laying fires in the grate on my traces –
your bones latticed into kindling

until, wiping off abrasives of salt
and light, over sweetmeats I confirm
our own lands I took with me, sailing.


Patricia McCarthy, winner of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2013, is the editor of the national/international poetry journal, Agenda. 

To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.