First lines: a poem

The internet is an ocean, breathing
a tide of bright noise
into chains of caves where eyes blaze like diodes.

Make yourself an ark of cypress wood

The internet is a walled garden & a wild moor,
it listens more particularly than human ears.
The internet is logical & fallible
jester & judge
delicious & devious; it is beyond this poem.

For the earth is filled with violence

The internet is broken open with each search -
the internet is made of searchers,
its bones are history, its bones are built of treasure,
it speaks with the tongues of the unborn.

Almond, bramble, clover, canary -

All creatures that have the breath of life in them

The internet is cage & sanctuary
filled with bird song, sub-song, locks,
muffled & amplified, distorted & true.

It bears no blood but a many chambered-heart.

Keep them alive with you

Adder, bluebell, conker -

The internet has a complicated, enormous skeleton
that cannot be reassembled.
It builds its bones as we build language,
the way a pearl grows -

Dandelion, fern, hazel -

Keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth

The internet is bound in a dark room, its mouth gagged -
the internet is constantly taking its bandages off & pulling the wadding out of its mouth.
The internet doesn’t have a mouth - it is all mouth.
The internet can sing as the Beluga sings - listen!

Ivy, kingfisher, lavender, lark -

They are given into your hands -

The internet is more compelling than stars above us -
it holds vistas & carcasses & rainbows & gods.
Gods of our making to take apart, re-tell -

the internet is never full.
By this I mean it exists in a state of constant self-pollination -

Minnow, mussel, newt -

Be fruitful and multiply

Its light is a reflection of our light,
its voice our souls singing.

All those beautiful animals waiting to be woken.

Panther, pelican, pansy -

Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything

Raven, starling, stoat -

The internet is asexual & rampantly fertile.
It sends out long tendrils which guide us into the mouths of flowers.
It is infinite as a cell & more various than every little life.
The internet is a vast mirror & we look at it in astonishment

dressing ourselves & undressing, & dressing again.

I have set my rainbow in the clouds

The internet is a story & we are writing the first lines -

Tulip, violet, willow, wren.

Note – This poem of three voices weaves together Biblical phrases from the story of Noah’s Ark; “nature” words that were removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary in 2015 due to cultural changes in language use; and ideas from British children concerning the internet’s position in their lives.

  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
  • First lines: a poem
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Sarah Westcott

Sarah Westcott

Sarah Westcott's first poetry collection Slant Light was published by Pavilion Poetry (Liverpool University Press) and Highly Commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes. Her poems have appeared on beermats, billboards and the side of buses and were embedded in a nature reserve. Recent awards are the London Magazine poetry prize and the Manchester Cathedral prize.

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