The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Facing Aridity by Diana Woodcock

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Facing Aridity by Diana Woodcock, released by Wayfarer Books in 2021.

Bearded Seal

Atop a chunk of drifting ice floe
on the shallow water shelf
lounged a lone, long-whiskered seal,

its ginger-brown face as calm
as could be, though if it were me,
I’d feel our ship seemed to drift

a bit too close for comfort.
Still, the seal didn’t budge,
busy about its molting, preferring

not to enter the water just then.
Its elegant array of long stiff whiskers
curling at the ends. Its small head

pointing downwind and towards the water,
hearing and smelling what may prowl behind it,
seeing what’s in front. Always on edge,

alert for a polar bear or killer whale attack.
What I would have given to have heard this one
vocalize to advertise its suitability—

to have heard its downward spiraling trill,
sweeps and ascents as it sang
underwater to attract a female.

But this very one our ship had cozied up to,
hauled out on an ice floe just then, late
June, flexing its square-shaped flippers

and its long claws every now and then,
seemed done with all courting and mating attempts
for another year. And by its calm demeanor,

indeed it did appear as nonchalant
as anyone these days can possibly be
about melting ice in the Barents Sea.

Diana Woodcock’s fourth poetry collection, Facing Aridity, was published in 2021 as the 2020 Prism Prize for Climate Literature finalist. Forthcoming in 2023 is Holy Sparks (2020 Paraclete Press Poetry Award finalist). Recipient of the 2011 Vernice Quebodeaux Pathways Poetry Prize for Women for Swaying on the Elephant’s Shoulders, her work appears in Best New Poets 2008 and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Currently teaching at VCUarts Qatar, she holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, where her research was an inquiry into poetry’s role in the search for an environmental ethic.

Alaina Hanchey, known as Harley to both friends and foes, believes rhetoric is intensely important and the way we speak can change the world. That belief was shared by her best friend, Quinn Arielle Kerlin, who inspired her to volunteer and immerse herself in those words that matter, and the connections that matter.


Leave a Reply