Wooden Rises

Submerge yourself deep in Kate Holford's underwater poetry

by Kate Holford


A wooden rise, smooth bannister sloping upwards along the edge of the stair,
And a towel, folded slightly at the hemming. It abuts another towel, white; the smell of fresh damp.
Outside there is only sea stretching over rocks & weeds, submerged

And a wrecked rowing boat that sank & has rested ever since
Between the arches of archaic rock, of hard black volcanos.
How can rock curl… to see them you would have to slowly push
Water over your limbs, & submerge

Whole body diving, deep diving to the bottom.

A dive so sure no surface any more & an ache through muscle
Deeper than the waters ever take.
At the bottom there is murk– the resignation to space compressing;
Everything monochrome, tinted aqua at a squint.

Your eyeballs roll,
Flee currents.


A wooden rise,
A copse circumscribed by walking hands
Wandering the edges of the field.
Some tap index fingers- impatience married with an anxious tick
And the hope for leaving

Spinning on their whirligig, entrapped
Turn about the field as if it’s a room, four walls leaning in.

Mud floats lightly upwards, suspended silt
Where feet have kicked against the bottom. Form miniature rifts in the patination.


He said once that by waking early & seeing the water move in half light,
As if one single might, like crazy

You could understand, then, the simplicity of everything—
The great form could shift slightly
To the left or to the right, & all would be irrevocably changed. 

Final, so final, and so stupid.
No swirling, just a great block of force; no turmoil of current.

You replied with silence, but silence has always recalled that day,

Closing the gate carefully at the edge of the beach
A deep foreboding question of why

Thinking all of it swept away as if redacted from the earth,
From time.

You learned, since, how to cope,
Whilst deeply diving through that singular being

Like crazy, like mad –

Frozen hands, and a face bitten by wet sand
Laced with a fossilised expression


Kate Holford | @kmholford | Instagram
Kate is an artist and writer living in South London, currently working as a bookshop manager. She graduated Fine Art from Falmouth University in 2013 and since leaving Cornwall has curated a number of exhibitions in London. This has included a show at The Strand Gallery that, amongst other things, considered the symbiosis between writing and drawing.