ANOTHER PLACE REVISITED AT LOW WATER


‘It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe.’ Anthony Gormley

 

They are still standing and their slow carapace

of barnacles breathes. Small pools of eaten

razor clams and star fish lie at their feet – fry

dart amongst seaweed fronds and the dead.

An off shore breeze brings the calls of distant

sea birds close. The RNLI flag stiffens

and plastic kites,

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A TERRIBLE SILENCE

‘The sounds of people drowning are something that I cannot describe to you, and neither can anyone else. It’s the most dreadful sound and there is a terrible silence that follows it.’

A GIRL ABOARD THE TITANIC: A SURVIVOR’S STORY, Eva Hart

 

We found ourselves spending time in Godalming

on one of those sun baked, humid July days

that surprise England. The air was thick

with flying ants. We sought shade under willows

on the banks of the Wey, that meanders

through meadowland.

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AT CHESTER CROSS

I am standing near the loud evangelists

by the medieval sandstone cross that marks

the centre of this erstwhile Roman camp,

Castra Deva, base for two centuries

of the Twentieth, Valeria Victrix

streets south and west to the Dee, east to forests

and the lush plain, north to sandstone outcrops.

 

The Presbyterian rhetoric

of Damnation and Sweet Jesus keeps

other spectators away, gives me

a clear view of the midsummer,

pagan parade –

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THE KING’S WORKS IN WALES

Edward I’s decision, announced on 17 November 1276, to go against Llywelyn as a rebel and disturber of the peace, had, as not the least notable of its consequences, the inauguration in Wales of a programme of castle-building of the first magnitude.

THE HISTORY OF THE KING’S WORKS, HMSO, 1963

 

Maître Jacques, castle builder from St. George,

Savoy, walked the crag’s perimeter

two hundred feet above the breaking sea

that would ensure supplies during sieges,

and advised the king in what was due course then –

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SEA URCHINS, HARLECH BEACH

Walking north towards the estuary –

the high dunes on our right, the surf direct

from Ireland on our left – we come across first,

at winter’s high tide line, a scattering

of too many empty razor shells to count,

and then the urchin skeletons, maybe

a hundred, two, whitened by the wind,

some almost placed like letters the sea has scuffed.

 

These are ‘heart urchins’ or ‘sea potatoes’

misnomers for this lapidary piece

of calcium almost weightless in my palm,

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