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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