for Conor O’Callaghan
It’s not like the lip or verge of anything.
No surfers paddle and balance
to where a reef splits the currents
into a wave’s right-angled lectern.
No beachcombers stockpiling
driftwood, shellfish, jetsam,
no heavy machinery, for the links or the farmer,
to ship inland
industrial loads of seaweed and sand;
seagulls gabble and scramble up,
into the gale at the sight of a ship
residents walk the pier, kick the wall
and, about face, puff and windmill
one day into another.
No cold, spraying wind blows off this shore
like a monomaniacal point of view.
Its slow tides might as well be hung with snow.
And there? Windbreakers draped with striped towels,
the brisk noise in a sand dune’s endless morning,
the flask and the sandwich, the breakers breaking
netless courts, names drawn with shovels,
the fortified castle and elaborate moat,
the dull shine off the tide’s cloudy aftermath…
It’s not like standing
at the lip or verge of something,
not here, where the sea peters out,
the rumour of a distant pool. But if it’s not
that lisping, withdrawing crash on a bronze beach,
it is, halfway to silence, this hush
which is, too, not just anything
and carries across
the stony foreshore and the strand’s fine grain
what could pass for a canal’s stillness,
cyclists—familial, in single file—cresting
the sea-defence’s low and wavy bank. Their inland tune.