The positive connotations of ‘Oracle’ (a youngster destined to be a poet growing up in a healthy environment) give way to a much darker Augury: the mask and body of a sick fish warn of impending threats to well-being. The ’inward broody style’ characteristic of Wintering Out underlines in allegorical form the threats facing both Ulster community and more widely by Mankind. Initial signs of normal health (The fish faced into the current) belie life-threatening changes: Its mouth agape as it searches for oxygen, Its whole head opened like a valve. The narrator bows to his companion’s prognosis: You said ‘It’s diseased’. Closer observation reveals the signs of sickness: an oval shaped pale crusted sore/ Turned like a coin dangling […]