On the beach

On the beach

 

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A daylight photo and a moonlit poem: I wonder how that came about? I guess we must have been beach-combing in the moonlight. It’s so long ago that I have forgotten the links between photo and poem. That said, Clare and I had spent a couple of weeks together in Santander (Spain) the previous summer, when we got engaged.

‘O bahía de Santander: tan bella bajo la luna’ / “oh Bay of Santander, so beautiful beneath the moon” as the Santander poet Gerardo Diego writes. And yes, Santander under a full moon: Mataleñas, the Segunda Playa, Jardines del Piquío, La Magdalena, the Bay of Santander itself, with Peña Cabarga in the background … there is something about beaches and midnight and moonlight which transcends the warmth of a summer’s day. It’s a sort of Midnight Magic that creates a madness of wonder in the blood. Imagine: all those silver fish, swimming their underwater roads, and rising to the surface, to ripple softly along the moon-path. Wander-lust / wonder-lust: sometimes buried words will not rise to the surface and those oh-so-precious moments of supreme poetry are lost among street lights, advertisements for this and that, street signs and the sort of stop signs that stop you and numb your mind into the dumb acceptance of daily reality: la vie quotidienne.

Memories: will they all vanish with us when we go? Of course they will. Many are fading now as we sit here at our desks, in our offices, before our computer screens. The grey screen hustle and bustle pushes memories, light and bright, back into the darkest corners. Where do I get off the bus, the train? Which number is it? Where is the office? Who am I meeting today and at what time? Did I shut the door behind me? Did I pack the children’s lunch? Did I let the cat out? And if so, out of which bag?

passionless not meaningless
the way I take your hand
tomorrow night not even we
will ever understand
the conflicts of this moonlit beach
the warmth of this sea-licked sand

PS. There, see, I told you I couldn’t read my own handwriting. Kiss / take; night / sand. Oh dear, the old grey cells are playing chess with my mind again: P-K4 / e2-e4 … whatever next? Well, I warned you!!!!

 

Moon Walk

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Moon Walk
Friday Flash Fiction

Full moon over the Bay.  For the second time this month I walk along the wharf and watch the moon’s perfect disc as it creates over the bayside mountain its miracle of geometry: a golden circle balanced on a high triangle of rock.  Moonlight carves its golden pathway across the waves. I want to walk that walkway and end my earthly existence.

At night, in my boarding school, that grey stone prison where I spend interminable days and fearful nights, lying awake, I watch the moonlight as it moves across the dormitory walls.  I lie awake so I will not be caught napping by those stealthy footsteps followed by the rough, punishing hands that still haunt my dreams.

Is that a face I see in the moon?  Is that the grinning visage I see in the beer glass on the Guinness advertisements that adorn the railway tracks behind my parents’ house where I am sometimes permitted to eke out my existence? In boarding school, the masters observe me. The prefects and monitors observe me. The school bullies observe me.  But in geography class, they have never taught me that the lunar body observes me with its unwinking eye.

I watch the moon as it swims in the water.  I sense the movement of the night fish as they shimmer beneath the waves and a shiver moves a chill finger up and down my spine. The moon is the other, the other that faces me, speaks to me, reasons with me, the unfathomable other. But what am I other than one of these cold fish swimming silent beneath the waves?

It’s very quiet tonight down here by the docks. I have been in this city for six weeks now and I still have no friends. There’s always a glass barrier into which I bump at various intervals. I do not leave for another six weeks, that’s what my tickets say anyway, but I am thinking of changing that.

Here, on the wharf I stand in the shadow cast by the Customs House. I taste the bitter salt of homelessness and I know that I will never belong in this world.

I look across the water. How beautiful is the bay beneath the moon.  I look up at the hills from whence cometh my salvation.

My grandfather walks towards me over the waves. He helps me choose stones and pebbles, helps me to fill my pockets with them. He takes me by the hand and gives me courage. He and I walk down the slip way, hand in hand, and then we walk out across the moon path and into the sea.