The names of things unseen
for Ethan
by Kate Garrett

You discover new spots on our adventures:
Abergele, Deganwy, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay,
Betws-y-Coed, Llandudno Pier, Conwy Castle.
You and your brothers – pirates and knights –
duelling, peering into dungeons, or racing
to the edge of the jellyfish-dotted sea.

You pack your bag, almost overflowing:
a boomerang, a hacky sack, a water gun
shaped like a shark, an eye-patch and wooden swords,
bunched into place with books, knitting,
paper, pens (for the rainy days),
and a candle, painted in wax with your name.

Your friends teach you bits of an ancient tongue:
trenau, gwylan, “pen, ysgwyddau, coesau, traed,”*
then you explore my dictionary to find
the names of things unseen, but read, and dreamed –
tylwyth teg, môr-forwyn, coblyn, draig**
wrap words like cowry shells to take back home.

*train, seagull, “head, shoulders, knees, toes” (Welsh)
**fairy, mermaid, goblin, dragon (Welsh)

PHOTOGRAPH: The author and her two sons, Rhyl Beach, North Wales, the Irish Sea (August 2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The names of things unseen” was originally published as part of my debut pamphlet of the same name, as part of Prolebooks’ six-poet collection Caboodle. It was written in response to the holidays I take with my sons to North Wales every August, and how words from a newly discovered language can be treasured as much as a found object (like seashells), and how experiences are coloured by the words we use to think about them, even as children.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Garrett was born thirtysomething years ago in southwestern Ohio, but has lived all of her adult life in the United Kingdom. She writes poems and flash fiction, and edits other people’s poems and flash fiction. Her work is published online and in print, most recently in Prole, Black Sheep Journal, and The Fat Damsel, and her latest book of poetry and flash fiction, Bewitched and Other Stories, is forthcoming from Pankhearst in August 2015. She lives in Sheffield with her three sons, a folkmusicianpoet, and a cat.