Dee Estuary from Gayton Sands. © Sylvia Selzer 2009.

Larks and herons rise from the same shared ground –

a salt-marsh sprinkled with scurvy grass

like early snow. A navigable channel

is impossibly distant, far-off as

childhood’s spring tides. Silt obscured endeavour.

Sailors and milkmaids and priests lie low

as the worked-out coal seams. Glaciers made this –

ice miles, thick as centuries, combing valleys,

teasing out hills, a slow explosion

of seas. I imagine, back in Europe’s

reticular forests, a homely,

mackerel sky caught in another’s vision –

ancient weathers, sand settling in a pool,

pebbles jarred momentarily, the shape

and sense of time.


Towing the continent,

hulks sailed west. Only fulmars passed. The past

stretches like a landscape from this instant,

encompassing it. The oneness of things,

their disparateness I taste like blood:

the jest at the heart – being here and now

who could so easily have been elsewhere

or no one. Oblivious of ironies,

soarers and coasters cohabit. The ice

was deep as mountains. I am shrouded in

imagining’s ponderous white oceans.




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  1. #1 by Clive Watkins - September 1st, 2009 at 14:43

    This appealed to me at first for an entirely extra-literary reason. For six and half years during the 1970s I worked on the Wirral and lived at Gayton. So your photograph and its caption at once caught my eye. I used to know this shore-line well: aspects of it figure in my own writing.

    It also brought back for me your early, unpublished, blank verse poem, SOMEONE HAS SET IT DOWN , for this, too, has as its locale the Dee estuary, specifically the Dee at Parkgate, some two miles upriver from Gayton.

    SOMEONE HAS SET IT DOWN opens with a passage of description, but, as its title suggests, it is really a series of reflections on the ways in which the shore and its adjacent inland areas have been registered, modified or made imaginative use of in the past, reflections offered in the knowledge of human transience.

    In this, SOMEONE HAS SET IT DOWN is, so it seems to me, an ancestor of the later and shorter poem, THE SAME SHARED GROUND: a poem about the mortal self as the interpreter of a particular place and about the conflicts which this entails; for while the ‘soarers and coasters cohabit’, they, unlike the narrator, are ‘Oblivious of ironies’. The poem’s key is perhaps all that is implied, in sense and tone, by ‘shrouded’ and ‘imagining’s’ in the final sentence: ‘I am shrouded in | imagining’s ponderous white oceans.’

    For this reason, THE SAME SHARED GROUND is perhaps kin to THE HEART’S TESTIMONY – , concerning which I agree with what Arthur Kemelman and Mark Chapman have to say.

    Good luck with your web-site, David, and with your writing!

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