in the Moorish Creek
The sea sculpts the shore.
What was rock before
is now pebbled beach.
Wade in in bare feet.
Swim, and fête the feat
of the Mediterranean
chiselling this creek
to shingle: a week
of breakers on a roll,
and bolts from the skies,
worked to pulverise
red stone and granite.
So, the coast’s clear to choose
to swim without shoes.
I live in a storm that has declared itself as I enter the sea.
The sky like a cartoon, black and brown braiding the billowing sails of white cloud.
Falk lightning breaks up into a shower of light, and I wonder if a thunderbolt can strike
on water. Floating on my back, I wait for what is to come and go with the drift.
And when the downpour comes I fend the hail, large as grapes, side stroke.
As it softens to a dance of drops bouncing off the surface skimmed by the wind,
I take it on the face like a sea god or a seal. But I am all too human.
Cold, I breaststroke ashore to shelter in the cave,
where out of the dark I’m greeted by smiling faces, a loving couple.
I leave them to themselves and cycle home, drenched to the skin,
spirits elated by the sight I’m cutting in the eyes
under umbrellas, and a sky no longer angry with itself.
I’m in conversation with the raging sea,
and, needless to say, not a word could be heard,
I murmur sweet nothings in her shelled ear
‘You are so beautiful when you’re angry’.
I’m on the cusp of the cliff of fear
hoping a back summersault will land me
on heather. But the rolling waves I hold dear
draw me to the edge, and their crash ricochet
me off balance into the blowhole, a sheer
drop, and I’m swallowed up. Not a dietary
act but an internal dialogue: I hear
her spit out ‘Welcome to my grave. Die in me’.
On the headland seagulls scream through the spray.
drowning out the last words in our colloquy.
Woe betide, the marine, who can’t swim,
And who treats lightly mother ocean.
1.The sea and death are female in French
I am a sailor. We should be friends.
She who’s my living will be my end.
But we are not on the same wave-length.
I bid her in Gaelic, my mother tongue.
Alas it’s dead. I try another one.
‘Let’s meet at the Black Swan for a last drink’.
Her whoop at my float makes my heart sink,
‘O-la-la, mon hearty, not today.
I swim with the Académie Française’.
And so, our sonar line crackles dead
as sirens lure me to the sea’s bed.
2. The sea and death are female in French
I am a swimmer. We should be friends.
I learned in the womb to hold my breath
and blow bubbles, and not mind being wet. .
Mother introduced me to the breast-stroke,
and later the crawl. But soon I left you
for dry land., and it proved a bad mistake
my flipper feet were too flat for a shoe
Better to be at sea in an earthquake.
Will you take me back? Now I just float,
waiting for the current to take me
and my life out to the open sea.