Dee Estuary, Gayton ©SCES 2009

The sands now are out in the estuary

beyond a multitude of reeds and a

labyrinth of runnels, nearer Wales than

England. We walk along the old sandstone

seawall, side by side, looking up as we talk

towards that startling, empty horizon

– midway between Point of Air and Hilbre.

What confidence in the future to build

a sea defence as far as the next parish!

We make way for joggers and dog walkers:

at Cottage Lane,



He came in winter, buzzing by the stove.

She fed him crumbs and butter. She was very

lonely. She liked his talk of summer,

grew perceptive as a fly. But in June,

when she still saw nothing, she squeezed her fist

and heard him scream. “I am the universal

suffering man, a sacrifice in

an empty room, reduced to a shadow

on a public wall, tearing my way

to the top in the bathhouse.” She called him

Gabriel. The night she was born bombs blitzed seeds

in her brain, 



At dawn, a white jogger ran along a side road

beyond the budget hotel’s high, spiked railings.

So the neighbourhood was safe. But for whom?

Later, beneath the barbed wire topped wall

of the dentist’s opposite – a notice warned

of armed response – half a dozen or so black men gathered

in ones and twos. Some had crude boards announcing

their crafts:  brick layer, gardener. Sometimes a pick-up stopped.

The men moved forward. There was talk with the baas.



With the six o’clock news on Thursdays,

Uncle Tom, smelling of sweat and sawdust, brought

the Dandy – and the Beano! Unlooked-for,

like a lodger, in the bare, spared room over

the hall of brasses and ‘Off Valpariso’,

bachelor Tom had no more substance

than Lord Snooty or Desperate Dan.

He had been gassed twice and died of bronchitis

the year the King died of cancer. I lost

his chisels, which he honed but never used,

one by one in the garden.



Marooned for three years, Ben Gunn was

‘sore for Christian diet’. He dreamt of cheese,

toasted mostly.

Doctor Livesey always had about him

a piece of Parmesan in a snuffbox.

When he heard about the dreams, he said,

‘Well, that’s for Ben Gunn!’

But we never find out if the ‘half mad maroon’ savours

the King of Cheeses.

Maybe he eats it and thinks of Cheddar.

I was walking up the Farnham Road in Slough.

I passed an off-licence run by Sikhs,