At the edge of the curving beach
where shadows give way to sun,
is a modest sandy garden.
Tamarisk with long fat fingers
of a hundred tiny pink flowers,
late budding santolina, cotton rich
with yellow button blooms, while
purple globes of sea holly stand
proud above their pebbled bed.
Close to a feathered corpse
lying high-tide stranded beneath
the milk-white cliff, he tosses shells
and bladderwrack into an October
sky. Curved beak agape, his long
harsh cry lingers on the wind,
proclaiming that he the king
seeks a new mate, while the first
lies not yet cold on jagged rocks.
A brindled dog lost, tail wagging,
pretending not to care, darts
about the pools and alien paths.
Whining quietly, brown eyes sad,
he lies nose on trembling paws,
close by the water’s edge. Tries to
to join the playing children, but
rudely banished, he shivers, sighs
and pads sadly away into nowhere.
They are all gone now, flowers
shrouded in soft evening mist,
herring gull with his new queen
up to the nest high on the cliff,
lost dog found again, warm again
in the clutch of the boy who had
wept through the long afternoon
for his faithful old mongrel friend.
The beach lies deserted and quiet.
As the pale gold sun gently slips
into the arms of a dark bronze sea,
the faint echo of an invisible bell
is heard above the whispering
of small waves lapping on shingle.
Once perhaps it was a summons
bidding the faithful to prayer,
tonight only the hoot of an owl
responds: ‘Sleep now. All is well.’
Illustration by Liz Naomi