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ON LITTLE EYE

Only the highest tides reach this small island’s

sandstone rocks. A collar of flaxen sand

surrounds it. A quarter of a mile north

is Middle Eye. A hundred yards further

is Hilbre, habitation of hermits,

custom’s officers, weather stations.

These three are rugged, stony outcrops

in the mouth of the estuary.

 

Leaving West Kirby’s suburban promenade,

we had walked, at low water, to Little Eye

across the Dee’s hard, striated sands.

Westward is Wales, and the redundant lighthouse

at Point of Ayr, and, beyond and looming,

Llandudno’s Great Orme like the dragon’s head

the Norsemen named it for. Here is the earth’s

sweep, our planet’s generous curve and grasp.

 

Nearer, on West Hoyle Bank, a colony

of maybe thirty, forty grey seals

has hauled out, dark shapes only at this distance –

their calls plaintive as gulls’, chesty, guttural.

In the channel between – filling with tide –

two kite surfers skim noisily into sight.

The giant sails swell, billow, with chancy air.

The seals begin to stir. We are tiny

on the arc of the world.

 

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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2 Responses
  • Clive Watkins
    July 1, 2021

    I liked this, David. The ending is particularly effective—the seals, heavy on land (‘hauled out’), the channel filling with the tide, dragged by gravity round the globe, the ‘chancy air’ that swells the ‘giant sails’ and indicates the vulnerability of the kite surfers should the wind change. It revives my own memories of this area and its wide views, in my case from the 1970s when we lived at Gayton, on the Dee side of the Wirral. The beach at Caldy was the site of one our regular walks. As you write, the Dee sands can indeed be hard and striated. In places they can also be treacherous to the unwary—such as our eldest, then an excited seven-year-old boy, when, one early January day in 1979, he ran ahead of his mother towards the water and found himself suddenly sinking to the waist. Fortunately, Irene, with much effort and at some risk to herself—she was three months pregnant at the time—managed to extricate him. (Where was I? At work of course.) The event is marked in a poem in JIGSAW (https://waywiser-press.com/product/jigsaw/).

    Inscriptions
    for Noel

    1. Caldy Shore

    What dazzles and blinds is not the sun alone,
    but light coming from afar to flash
    off scalloped mud, off ruched water,
    the rush of the returning tide:
    illegible splendour,
    dark inwardnesses that cannot bear
    even the frail weight of the human.

    2. Meal Hill

    It is the great heat-engine of the atmosphere drives this wind
    that, flooding across Wessenden and Cartworth Moor,
    at Meal Hill’s abrupt front
    lifts up these home-made wings of paper and wood.
    Rooted, he steers
    with the delicate motion of his thumbs
    the plane’s swerve and sidle,
    as the air inscribes
    on his soft ribs, on the hollow bones of his cheek,
    its icy distances.

    3. Bowfell

    At such a height,
    the earth beneath their feet contracts
    to this pyramid of tilted slabs,
    these grey beds of unremembering rock.
    Below them, a cloud of light conceals
    the valley’s glacial scoop, beck, intake, the last trees.
    The air grows thinner.
    Far off, the sea unfolds its glittering music.
    Effort and love have brought them to this place,
    will take them down again,
    walking home at evening
    through sheep-pastures,
    between stone walls,
    the cry of young lambs brimming the cool air.

    (courtesy of the Waywiser Press: https://waywiser-press.com)

  • Pat Rogerson
    August 27, 2021

    Did this walk whilst staying in the caravan at Wirral Country Park. Following those ahead of us we struggled across the slippery rocks of Middle Eye – a challenge for a poorly knee but we made it. The Oyster Catchers gathered at the water’s edge in their dozens. We spent a good while gathering sea glass to be turned into jewellery. A lovely walk, and your poem has brought back memories of the walk. We sensibly avoided the rocks on our return by walking in the tracks of a 4×4!

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