Thursday, 30 July 2009


Three of us went
And lived on a beach for a week, alone.
We didn’t see another soul.

Our bare feet hardened to the gneiss and we got used to the way the eagles would linger,
To their cries, callous calls.
And we perched like they did after a few days,

On rocks that served as lookout points.
I was used to different ways of seeing: from my car window, the garden from the kitchen sink,
But not like this: I suddenly caught every movement, and lived the weather

Mind, body and soul.
Every insect left an imprint on me.
I saw everything.

The sky was too big to take in,
And the scale of it filled me with terror some days
The truth was so big, so vast,

And the sea stripped me of all my accoutrements
Each passing tide bit at my toes
Washed and emptied me of all personality.

My fingers traced the detail of rough seams of quartz
Through rumps of rock,
Stroked cotton and thrift.

My talents went unnoticed.
Born diplomat, expert negotiator
And no need for communication here…

No need to record a thing.
No artifice in a place where all is laid bare
To the winds moods, painted on sand.

I etched out my name with a stick quietly
And come morning, there was nothing left of me.

All the same, I washed up carefully, with seaweed for a scourer
And watched our oily dregs swirl into the sea.
I stayed close to the tent.

In some smaller gullies plastic milk cartons, an old he-man toy and a buoy, but
The only object we worshiped now was the trangia,
so we knelt at an altar of tin.

At night I went to bed cold, despite the fire, and waited till the sadness crept beside me,
Like an unwelcome thief.
I just wept mildly.

We each saw phosphorescence at the shore and watched it for a long time:
Fluorescent crazy dancing on tiny eddies,
Spun magical artistry under the moon.

But kept it to ourselves.
No words were necessary,
No collusion here.
No camaraderie.

We watched a storm pass, and saw it come in dark and loaded over the next peninsula
Then leave behind glowing white crofts to the north
And not one of us said a thing.

When we finally left, lean, with blackness ingrained,
We had learned to fish with our hands, and found a redundant agility.
Our eyes had been flooded with forms and shapes
Longing and emptiness,
Spectres of selves.

And we left together, but went our own ways,
Carrying whalelike, unspeakable truths
On our knees in the car.

But I was younger then,
And I was glad to go
Back to a world I knew my place in
And leave such chaos.

July 2009

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