Tides

Spray stings our eyes.
Crouched by the sea wall
we watch the waves break,
creamy, hissing, as they
rake back pebbles with a sound
like thousands clapping.

Later, fought to a finish,
the undertow retreats,
the sea smooths out its folds,
finds equilbrium
like wine poured in a glass.

Baked in sunlight
the harbour stinks of weed,
dead fish, marine oil.
Gulls strut the mud
like greedy pillagers after battle.

The beach is blank
scraped clean
blanching at each step.
Later it will be a palimpsest of stories –
a dog’s paws printed shallower
and wider as it runs;
a sandcastle, untenanted
and fallen into disrepair –
and gulls’ webs pressed like leaves
into the sand.

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Walking to the sea

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Cross the narrow railway track
where no trains run.
Walk the line of trodden grass
through gateways barred with shadow.
As the last light sinks
into ditches and hedge bottoms
follow the stream, gleaming like spilled ink,
thinning to a wet sheen as it trickles
through pebble beds and seaweed,
seeking a level.
Stand.Listen to the soft rush
as waves break
gently, like an old man breathing.
Lick the salt from your lips, feel
the sand ridged under your feet.

Somewhere a heron clatters its wings
and lifts into the grey dusk.