Each summer we would walk to the cliffs
where you can see Toe Head and The Stags
surging from the ocean like a drowning hand.
My father would bring the binoculars to his eyes,
saying, ‘At low tide they say you can see it,
the tip of a funnel.’ He’d scan the sea
like a captain watching for a storm.
‘I remember the night it went down.
You were that size,’ he showed me with a hand.
‘We were up poles all night. Half of the country switched out.
Every bloody crew in the country were up poles.’
I asked him if it went fast. ‘Twenty minutes.’
He clicked his fingers and my stomach clenched
into a knot. As if it had just happened.
He handed me the binoculars and I watched
snakes of light as they played on the sea,
silent slaps of white on the death black rock.
I held my breath for a shape or a fleck of colour,
something to mark the grave. But nothing.
We’d walk back the two miles to our caravan
where my mother would have new spuds
piled on a dish for anyone to take. And each
summer it was the same—the first two weeks of July,
when the beaches and caravan parks
were suffocated with the laughter of children.
He’d want to go out to the cliffs, to walk
the two miles of fuchsia and honeybees
and tractors twisting hay into bales.
The binoculars swinging like a grandfather clock
on his chest. Hoping to catch a glimpse
of what it means to go under for the last time.