the exile

tell me about the sea
and what it means
and what the weather’s like in Brindisi
where my people come from
who I never met

I know more about the sea
and what it means
than I do of those who made me
and summoned me from sleep

tell me about the sky
and what that means

and what it means
to live without regret

I spend my days collecting stories
and not a true one yet

the deckchair man

I wish I could remember now
what the deckchair man had said

in the evening
before the sun went down

I had been his only customer
all of that long day

on the quiet shore
where no one else had come

something about attachment
something about the senses

chains by which we’re bound
that much I know

something about forgiveness
something about acceptance

something about surrender
letting go

something about love
all-redeeming love

and there being no turning back
once we are called

he spoke so very softly
it might have been the sea

when I looked
there was no one there at all

the jar

I found an old jar in her kitchen
that for long had remained unused

it was like one I remembered from childhood
that I used to cling on to

the trees in my mother’s garden were many and beautiful
though she lived in a small apartment
by the sea

of the silent guest at her table
she would talk to her family

yes the trees in my mother’s garden were beautiful
but the jar
I threw into the sea

of the silent guest at her table
the sea has no memory

nocturne 

strands interwoven at twilight
amber at eve in a braid

we used to tell stories at bedtime
impossible stories we made

such a strange dance we were dancing
a dance we were taught by the sea

to whom do you wave on the shoreline
to whom do you wave if not me

navigation 

when conversation became difficult
I made for the shelter of the trees
looking back across the sun-bleached field
to where the party was in full swing
appreciating the amplitude of tall silences
that I could navigate more easily

from there I could see you slowly circling
coming to rest
before finally heading out

navigation

ascertaining a position
calculating the most favourable route
between one point and another

even when there is no point at all

navigation

just moving around

it takes skill

practice

finesse

when even gentle waters
can seem treacherous

safer amid trees

they don’t move around

at least don’t appear to

I whispered a quiet thank you
and plotted a course back

theft at Lyme Regis

four glass coasters
bought at Lyme Regis
when the children were young
and life was easy

life was never easy

photographing them now in sunlight
they seem fabulous beyond compare
blue from another ocean
I never knew existed 
where sea urchins devour whales
amid bubbles of aquamarine
and half-formed monsters
guard a pirate treasure hardly seen
at the time

joy passes too quickly for us to grasp
life is a bauble
a theft
don’t expect miracles
when the miracle has already passed 

lost in a sea
preserved in glass