Picnic - Granta Magazine


Emily Berry

If you are not happy, the sea is not happy It sulks in and out...

If you are not happy, the sea is not happy
It sulks in and out of the bay
I lie on the bed or stand at the window watching the sea
Why must we destroy what we do
Watching the sea is like watching something in pieces continually striving to be whole
Imagine trying to pick up a piece of the sea and show it to a person
I tried to do that
All that year I visited a man in a room
I polished my feelings
Sometimes I think if the devil came and offered to swap me into some other body without me knowing what I’d be getting, I’d say . . .  Sure
And, sure, I believe in the devil

I wanted to love the world
I thought when all the anxiety slipped away, I’d watch it go, and I’d know precisely
Every increment of its departure
The way ‘getting better’ can be an unfolding
The covers pulled back, the light coming in




The mood of the sea is catching
Your eyes wear out from all the glitches
I sat there watching it and I can assure you it is so
Its colour became the colour of my eyes and the salt made me cry oceans




I like curved things
Apples, peaches, the crest of a wave
We once agreed the apple was the only iconic fruit

I like it when I am writing a poem and I know that I am feeling something
To be poised and to invite contact
Or to appear to invite contact

            Remember when we used to imagine
            Our correspondence would make us famous or that
            Once we’d become famous our correspondence would too?
            Maybe it still will
            I’ll need to make a lot of cuts first

When did everybody start wanting to be famous all the time
Or has it always been this way
This is the rain, the October rain
I wrote that when it was still October
It must have been raining
It will always be October again

This is sadness: men in waterproofs dragging the deep lake
The warm American voice says: There is no lack or limitation, there is only
               error in thought
My thoughts are wrong. My thoughts are wrong
The thought that my thoughts are wrong is wrong




I started to be able to see in the dark
It hurt my eyes
My, yes, salty, wet, ocean-coloured eyes
Albeit that in the dark they were the colour of the dark, and on fire




When the rain came after the drought they said it was not good enough
It would not change things
It was the wrong rain
The rain came out of my eyes and fell on the ground and dried up
I achieved no release

Who are you. Who are you. Who are you

Stop, language is crawling all over me
Sometimes if you stay still long enough you can make it go
If a person standing still watched another person minutely moving would it
seem after a while as if they were watching the sea?
I remember just one thing my mother said to me:
Never look at yourself in the mirror when you’re crying
I did not follow her advice



Emily Berry

Emily Berry was an Eric Gregory Award winner in 2008, and her pamphlet, Stingray Fevers, was published by Tall Lighthouse the same year. Her first collection, Dear Boy, was published by Faber in 2013.

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