Ella Jane Chappell


We are measured in miles.

We are the thoughts you had

But didn’t voice, even to yourself.

We are marbled, cold,

Sometimes sculptural, sometimes

Tables to nothing in particular,

Going nowhere in particular.


Homeward bound, stuffed with wool from Tasmania,

sailing beneath the tip of Argentina,

the Eden Holme encountered head winds that forced

her to run considerably south of the ordinary track.

She got amongst the ice.

Passing one day between daybreak and dark

ninety large bergs or icelands.


We are the shine in the dark water.

We are the phosphenes behind your eyes.

The whiteness of ice is the whiteness of the whale.

Here we are the only things that waves have to hit.

We would be stone if it were not for our

Rainbows and double visions.


I was sitting in my cabin at night

when there was a great commotion on deck,

and running up I found the ship bearing down

upon a huge iceberg which had just loomed

in her path from the darkness.

One crew man’s face I will never forget.


We are crests of light frozen to stillness.

The act of ice is simple as love.

We transmute white into jittering hues,

We melt gently with the fish.


When I had grasped the situation

and given the necessary orders,

the remainder of the crew sprung to it,

and we succeeded in just skimming along

the side of the berg,

which, in the moonlight, was lightened up,

and drew from me an involuntary exclamation.


And that’s when we saw him;

Glacial but with wood and ropes.

Our miniscule geometries, our transparent

Prisms and crystals glittered.

We passed like a window in which his

Almost-reflection hummed.

We, no colours, all colours,

Slowly met the ship.

Could one on the other side

see his eye, distorted,

as though through glass?


Ella Jane Chappell is a Norwich-based writer with a Mancunian soul. Currently studying the MA in Poetry at UEA, she is inspired by Jeffrey Eugenides, Ginsberg, Radiohead and marmite toast. For more poetry visit her blog:http://keepitsugarless.tumblr.com

Ellas poems can be found in Elbow Room Volume One and the our UEA Special Edition 2013