ON BRACKLESHAM SANDS
The burnt-skin glare of day, sun sighing,
Beaching into reefs of deep red light, as twilight reels in the bay.
The darkening night shore smells of nameless sea flowers and of death.
Neon columns proclaim the distant town, and the raw, rough boys.
Out there, beyond harbour; stationary ships, slack bouys,
But hopeful lights,
And here, braving the hard shore edge, the square box windows on private lives.
Trippers retreat and we reclaim new territory; the fishermen.
Moon films of sandy wet, mounded by riggish worm,
Everywhere the bait, under our stealthy feet.
A torch beam blinks, goes out, searching and dipping in and out.
My new found neighbour in the dark? A friend?
His grittish, shadowed knowledge shy of those purer trails;
Bright corridors down the lovely moon,
Across the wild sea, to you alone, to me?
My private, sacred angle,
But shared by everyone who looks and moves along the shore,
And wide as seeing.
A person is like a poem’s line,
Experience the sea.
We are all illuminated, or darkened.
We are everything, or nothing; pebble or the sea.
I loved you, but lost our thread. The cast too sharp, I broke the line.
Why did you hurt so much, for fear of being hurt,
Or fear of hurting? But nothing can be caught.
Cut fish flesh, blood, and a barb,
Weighted on sand slop beach, then flung to the shrugging waters:
The dead-head plop of expectation,
My isolated drowning, or a rising dream of hope.
Who needs a fish,
Trust to the land?
Two girls, hand in hand,
Come trailing the whispering bay,
Suddenly laughing, out of the dark,
Navigating my alien warning, my weird intrusion,
To disappear down the moon,
The world is a trick of the light.
A child can feel the sea through the new dropped line,
Sense into mind, testing the hopeful mystery, then knowing,
Pleased or shocked or horrified.
But we grow into failing feeling, for safety’s sake,
Or trust blind luck, a skill, much harm – the catch.
Or we drown in scales of pain,
Too sharp for human skin,
Cutting an opening in our dying blood.
Borrowed rod, fixed point, nowhere,
Sunk in the sand,
Stabbing the spattered stars,
For delicate direction, certainty,
But flagging a sea of centuries.
Yet the bay held us all, whole, in this element, a while,
Soft kissed the dreaming air, and gently urging swell,
Wide as the swaying sky.
Its silent crash of noise, then boom,
Sounding my restlessness and wanting.
A longing, limitless, or a learning to be in peace.
Nothing stops. Everything is dark and light, moving.
Scales of the sea bass moon glance on a breaking wave.
As the earth tilted back on the crescent,
Sunken to half blood orange,
A giant question in the sky,
It vanished too, over the rim, hooked on its orbit; but a sea change.
As the tide-turn changed our fisher minds.
We both crept up the shore, shifted, wary of cold, failure,
Purposefully drifting back,
Neighbourly as seaweed.
As the earth rolled back, looping the lightless sun,
Curving again, through sleep, into glaring waking,
The stars were endless though, the sea a lovely dream,
Wet sand on skin as warm as touch re-found,
While an ancient line, taught into deeper waters,
Caught me nothing, and everything.