Safe Harbour 

In chill November, stoutly, you and I, 

bent-backed and booted, turned into the wind.

Sinking in the slow, red mud, we walked.

I tracked your giant steps

heard in their clink and tumbling crush, 

the singing of the stones

saw rocks like teeth in the sea’s stark mouth 

slow drawn by time’s far edge

and cockle shells, bleached pale 

as death, spill secrets in dark sands.

But then we found our progress barred.

Across some river’s tiny roar


you taught me how the faulted earth

might fall in stern and folded crags

and how it still might quake and split

to break the breaking, bounded shore.

There tigers prowled, their bloodstone eyes

as abstract as their welted stripes

and monsters moved among the stones,

stirred up the bones of the tasty dead.

And so we crossed the Alps to find 

a land of snakes and stars.

A single tree still rooted

kept its vigil by the shore.

About the Artist

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley (formerly Wyatt) writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance in Cornwall. Since 2009, her work has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies including The Blue Nib, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Atrium, Fragmented Voices, The Lake and The Atlanta Review. Abigail was one of the poets featured in Wave Hub: new poetry from Cornwall (2014) edited by Dr Alan M Kent and published by Francis Boutle while, in 2019, a dozen or so poems were translated into Romanian for the literary journals Pro Saeculum and Banchetul.  In the same year, Bull Male, Sleeping was chosen for Poems on the Move by the Guernsey Literary Festival and appeared 'on the buses' throughout the summer season. In 2011, Abigail won the One Million Stories Writing Challenge.  The result was Old Soldiers, Old Bones and Other Stories (ed. S. Million), a collection of twenty-two stories which was written at the rate of a story every week to a series of prompts provided. This was a demanding and invaluable exercise. A writer cannot sit staring at an empty page with this kind of schedule to meet!

When not writing Abigail can be found painting, embroidering or, sometimes, hooking rugs out of old t-shirts. She also enjoys walking by the sea with David,  her singer-songwriter husband and her little dog, Percy. Professionally speaking, Abigail was for many years a teacher until ill health forced her retirement.. She is now primary carer to her very elderly mother.

Abigail author's page can be found at

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