Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Seeing the seagulls in the garden reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago, after a visit to New Brighton in Merseyside, where, amidst the crying wheeling gulls, an old man in a navy guernsey and jeans was standing on the shore, staring out to sea with his faded eyes like stone-washed denim. I wove in birth, decay, evolution, the impartial ebb and flow of every tide. It was only years later, on re-reading it, that I noticed every line rhymes, or half-rhymes, with another one somewhere in the poem. That was completely unintentional, and quite amazed me.


What have you left to come come to, old man?
Have you felt the turn of the tide in your lungs
And the dawn's thin blood draining your day?

Old man, what have you left to come home?
There, you had the tide at the height of its leap
Tearing down the white sail of the moon
While here, the chimneypots keel over
In a wind raging with your salt weather
And a sky snowing with seagulls.

Wife by the hearth, would you wake from your sleep
For a captain with cap made of downy white feathers,
Bringing nothing but blessings you've never heard sung?
Would you rise from your fire to a violent noon,
Wild wind slapping the sails in the bay
And watch him sit up with his eyes full of pearls?

Yet both of you once had the sea for a lover,
With nothing left now but a thin line of foam
To mark where your intricate voyage began.


joanne fox said...

Wonderfully powerful images of the sea there Hydra. I also like how you've captured the way both characters seem to be yearning for something lost.

Teresa Ashby said...

That is so moving. I could taste the salt and hear the sails. And the sky snowing with seagulls, lovely.