Saturday, August 14, 2010


This is Malindi,
the mystery of salt on my tongue,
toes curling in the surf,
scanning the horizon
for sharks.

This is Suez,
perched on a life-raft,
the better to absorb
the rising perfume of fresh leather,
chaos of colour and sound
from feluccas clustered all around.

This is Genova,
sleek destroyers anchored
idle now, but restless.
Mother, not nine years
out of Stalin's camps,
still thin and wary,
teetering on the edge of exile,
keeps me wrapped up warm
against the cold to come.

This is Biscay,
sneaking on deck
for a last game of quoits,
rolling with the grey swell,
ice in my eyes.

This is Tilbury,
the disappointment of dry land,
made softer by the first feeling
of snow on my unsuspecting cheek.

This is Blackpool,
chip wrappers hurtling
round the Pleasure Beach,
overloaded, braying donkeys,
gritty ice cream,
broken lights tinkling,
as I ride the Rockets
on my own.

This is the green Bay,
banner bright St. Helen's,
blousy Mumbles,
close by Aberfan Way.

This is the Haven,
two pairs of footprints
traced in sand and coal dust.

This is the road to Treshnish,
suspended in glass,
rafts of puffin everywhere,
Great Black Backs balanced
on thin air.

This the riding of the Wyrm,
heads haloed by the setting sun,
spray sheets wound
ever more tightly round.

This is the liner Mavi Marmara,
pressing against the tide,
decks slick with blood,
sharks circling.
My life is at the flood.
I hear the call of the sea again,
a rhythmic pulsing deep inside.

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