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The fog bell sounds every thirty seconds.
A shag bobs in the swell by the lighthouse
painted black and white with the legend
‘No Passage Landwards’ on its east and west sides.
An occasional heavy wave thumps the beach.

I climb the high bank of sea-smoothed pebbles
from the landward side and hear and feel them
chafe and slip. At the seaward foot of the mound –
a petrified wave three times my height –
an angler stands, motionless, his rod propped
on a tripod, the line taut in the tide.
And the bell sounds twice every minute.

On the island, a quarter mile away,
are cormorant, guillemot, razorbill.
On the horizon, tankers are waiting
to berth at Holyhead on the high tide.

He is watching the line, I presume,
ready for the slightest twitch to pull in
whatever it is his optimism
has prepared him for. The island has housed
a monastery, a sanctuary,
a telegraph station – now elder thrives
and puffins flourish on Puffin Island
or Priestholm or Ynys Seriol.
Every half minute, the lighthouse bell sounds.

I have my own fish to catch. This place,
whatever the weathers, inspires, inspires:
it is the end of land and the sea’s start,
under a sky always open, immense
but its compass points known beneath rocks
unchanged, a fifty year pilgrimage.

He is still watching the line when I leave
climbing the steep bank of worked pebbles.
And the bell sounds, and sounds…




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Ashen
    March 20, 2015

    Love the feel of this scene, the dramatic meeting of sea and land, the imagery. And there … an angler stands, motionless …

  • John Huddart
    April 10, 2015

    There is a train of melancholy in this poem that is the opposite of the sparkling waters of Mercy. I suppress a shudder at that sounding bell…..

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