After studying creative writing at uea, Ramona Herdman had a first collection published in 2003 and a poem in that year’s Forward anthology—followed by several blank years of not writing at all. But since 2009, new work has appeared widely in the magazines, and some of it has made its way into this unique pamphlet.
Bottle deals with a feature of UK culture that’s familiar, celebrated and dangerous—not least for writers. A fatal attraction to alcohol sometimes runs in families; sometimes gallops.
All the more need for this witty, painful and courageous examination of something that perplexes and preoccupies so many of us.
Ship in a Bottle
You hope it’s like a genie but it’s more like a ship.
What’s in this bottle is amazing as a ship’s folded rigging,
as her nine sheets stowed neat (but longing to throw
themselves to the wind, flapping sting-wet rope-ends).
Amazing, how she sails from the liquid’s doldrums—
a single, some doubles, straight from the bottle.
Amazing how she changes you—you’re almost
still the person peering at this from outside, saying
Just one, but the deck flexes under your feet
and you’re back on your sea-legs, face burnt, lips cracked
with the years since you last saw land. Amazing how quick
she turns and you stagger. She flies in front of the wind,
sails laughing, full rig, every creak and crack of her
saying this is what she was made for. And you,
borne along like a whole crew, singing.