Friday, July 09, 2010


I'm participating in a one of Pat Law's intriguing projects. 'Mailboat' is about communication by wind and current. It has an uncertain timescale and is named after the message-bearing bottles cast into the sea as a cry for help by St Kildans in the late 19th century.

Each writer or poet contributes a postcard-sized message to go in a bottle which Pat matches with something visual, and an invitation to the finder to respond. Using her classic wooden boat 'Kirsty', the bottles will be entrusted to the Minch this week, with the intention of catching the North Atlantic current, and we will wait for a response, not knowing from where or when, if ever, it may come.

I started thinking of things washed onto these shores from the Gulf of Mexico - drift seeds found along the west coast, to be kept as treasures, made into amulets to wear around a neck, or even grown on its new-found soil. Names given to them are poetry: molukka beans, fairy eggs, Mary's nuts, sea beans, drift fruits, seaheart, puzzle fruit.

I thought of the Armada ships, borne back to Spain on the same current, holds heaving with gold and silver. And Anguilla Anguilla, the leaf-shaped larvae of the European eel, brought here from its spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea.
And I thought about the models for climate change, how it's said that ice-melt from the north could halt the warm north-seeking drift, and force it deeper, cooling the surrounding lands.

But in the end my message was chosen for me when a printer error offered up a fragment of a story and it felt appropriate. I love to think that someone might grow their own story from this washed-up drift seed.

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