A Walk By The Sea

What was it we said – when we walked, as so often then – one foot flat on the sand, the other skimming the surf?   Were we not tempting fate, wishing almost to be overwhelmed by doubt and dragged under as the waves crash and hurl us about?  The calm of that day was a moment away from the storm that flared in your soul. The sea.  Ah, the sea.  We were mystically linked and forever entranced by those ever-shifting waves.  We yearned for connection – maybe a folk memory drew us back, to a time long before we were people.  There was something about the solitude, the disconnect with our normal lives of rush and bustle.  Something peaceful and pure, the power of each wave and the suction of the sand as the waves receded, dragging us ever deeper into the sea

And so, when walking there, words came; from some deep part of our sub-conscious.  I wondered about the nature of Men and Women and how they see the World in different colours.  And You?      I was never sure of your thoughts at all; I had to invent them for silent you were, as silent as the sand beneath our feet.   I was the seeker, the searcher for answers to the Universe, where for you the Universe was right there in the palm of your hand.  I was concerned by what the sea meant to each of us – and mostly the essence of our being there at all; you just watched the waves.  I was thinking how fragile we were, the entire human race.  How we think we have power and permanence, and the illusion of that very permanence.  In fact, the illusion of permanence is the only permanent thing in this ever-shifting illusory world.

And so, as I walk, alone now, but thinking of you, my mind unwinds and I begin to write…..A story.  A poem.  A memory I might once have recalled.  A conversation we never really had but maybe should have, begins to unfold…. 


He ;   Did I ever tell you, we are an island race

            Swept by currents chill

            And cliffs that crumble, like the lines in your                     face

          Waves that deposit and build


          Standing on these Headland Heights

          Cutting knife the wind

          Voices carry – drifting in – and stark, they slip                    away


She ;   Standing on those Headland Heights

             Blown apart by it all

             Voices carried – drifting in – like siren gulls they               called


            I can’t help but wonder what

            And for who they dare to speak

            For the strong who bruise me with their words

            Or – those of us so meek 


            And down by the sea where the shingle talks

            You get close to the heart of it all


He ;     The heart of it all, she says

              As if emotions matter at all

              But hold me close, the wind gathers strength

              I will catch if you should fall     


             You think these cliffs have always been here

            They were formed an eye-blink away

            But they’ll disappear just like us I fear

             In a month, a year or a day     


            In our restless quest we change every day

           Seeking perfection and truth

           A chain we are breaking as each link slips away

           We’re never the same as our youth


She ;  Our youth? That seems a long time ago

            Many seasons have passed since that time

           Blazing sun, wind, rain and then snow

          Will I ever regain those lost seasons of mine


          Back then I thought you were strong,

        Gentle, kind and mild

        But all that I own is this heart-shaped stone

       You gave when I carried your child


         This strand of man that clings to my hand

          A ribbon that winds as it binds

          Is a filament waving – a fine golden thread

          For a pendant, of flame-flashing fire

          And I sometimes feel so guilty

          I know I should atone

          For crimes that must, surely, be mine

          For loving that heart made of stone


He ;    Is this the stone that our daughter wears

            Semi-precious – as you are yet


She :   Yes – give it back – please let me hold

             Unfold its innermost net


           I thought I knew all about you

           Could read you like a book

           But turning around, for a second, I found

           You’d changed in the time it took


He :   Ah, the time it took, for what is time

           But another illusion of ours

          We think we know all about time

         The minutes, days and the hours

         But all permanence is illusion

        Stones will slowly dissolve

         Cliffs do crumble in the pouring rain

         The shore is a wavering line


She ;  You talk about the shore itself

            But you never swim in the water

            You stand on the sand

            And command with your hand

            As you left us, me and your daughter


           Yet the sharpest stone in your armoury store

           The one that cut me to the core

           Was soft at the edges, rounded and smooth

           A net to hold and bathe my wounds


He ;    Is this the stone that you found on the beach

          That day you went out on your own

          When the gulls flew low and the boats were

          Tethered, grazing the close-cropped sea


She ;   Yes – I do believe it is – I keep it here on the                       shelf      

            A reminder of days when I knew my own name

            When maybe I even trusted myself

            When I thought I knew the person to blame


            And I know you are clever – that I should agree

            About the constant nature of change

           Of illusion – erosion – evolution –     

           You see

           But to me the stone looks the same   

Shoreline landscape view in Upper Peninsula, Michigan ...