Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Zandvoort Fishergirl’: a poem by Helen Evans

‘The Zandvoort Fishergirl’ by Elizabeth Adela Forbes, 1884. Penlee Gallery 

Zandvoort Fishergirl

after the painting by Elizabeth Adela Forbes
Left hand on her hip,
her right hand balancing
an earthenware platter
against her blue apron,
she stares at us, unsmiling.

Her face is precise:
jaw set, hair scraped back;
there are touches of light
down one side of her cheek,
her left breast and her wrists.

The wicker basket at her feet
is empty. The platter holds
the day’s catch, two small fish.
She’s thin, and stands alone
by a high, barred window,

which opens on to a quay,
where the flat-calm sea might stretch
beyond the grey horizon
and a boat that starts from here
might reach an unknown shore.