A shift of Dunlin, unpicking the last knots of a morning tide
allowing its lace edge to slip back into the bay – its work done.
A fresh canvas awaits the first artist to leave an impression –
striding foot, and weaving paw, a scattered peck of oystercatcher,
and a sun-kissed bound of strolls – unplanned and unjudged,
the loose, broad ropes of stones spread out across the raised shore,
rounded, burnished, polished by the centuries, resting, waiting
for the winter storms to rattle their bones once more.
But I stop now for a moment and lift random flipstones,
to catch the whispers of their secrets escaping into the day.
A squadron of eider, late for an appointment, eases past
piercing the calmness of the day with a cheery call, ignored
by the bob of gulls puddling, planning their next annoyance,
scattered by my companion, barking at the rows of foam-haired foals
breaking on the boundary, starting backwards, springing forwards,
giving no quarter – rejecting nothing in this outnumbered exchange.
A single pebble skimmed over the still waters, the music of its circles
resonating softly, gently to break on the moment and remind me of then.
Of buckets and spades for sand castles that pierced the clouds.
Of sand dusted sandwiches, egg and sand, jam and sand
and burying my Dad to his chin. Everything’s in the tides breath.
The long beach inhales it. Its travelers bind it together – faithfully
contemplating what the sand’s intentions are – what makes the wind
slow to the buffeted step of our journeys. Life is random clouds folding.
All at once, a break in those scrapes and a million tea lights appear –
sparkle, shine, bob and dance towards the horizon streaked by urgency.
Sand martins, weaving right, darting left, in and out of the grass –
stalks shuddering in the breeze, like long spears where ancient warriors
dragged their boats up and walked ashore to till the land.
This land behind me where a single, determined curl of smoke
betrays the farm huddled down behind the buttressed dunes –
their muscle bound sands defiant. I desire the straitjacket of their world.
I can’t pretend we are meant to be together. The beach asks me questions which
I can’t answer but both our hearts are jealous free and expect nothing of each other.
Hidden larks cooried in the machar stop as I walk away – the grass
tying around my legs, pleading me to stay but I need to go
so that I can relish the thought of returning – a last cloud sits
on a brighter day, surrendering its burden, allowing the larks to sing
in the swell of raindrops too heavy for the lady’s mantle –
a silent symphony catching the rhythms of the morning’s embroidered hours.
I spread my arms to accept the moment of our parting. Eyes wide – I choose
the risk of lasting scars, of forgiving memories. I offer up no defence for my ambitions.