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Monday, 6 July 2009
A Love Poem
Torn from a Sunday Supplement,
The Cuckmere and its Haven by the sea.
The water calm, though not that day,
not where the three tides met
beyond the river's mouth.
More photo-fit than photograph:
features enough to recognise
(I recognised it straight away),
but not the essence of the place,
not as we knew it then.
So much was missing,
so much changed
(taken from above, you see):
the shady woods beyond the bridge,
the sea kale by the path -
Or was it? I was sure, but maybe not. -
you dressed to kill,
a splash of green -
all tucked away between the hills
and nowhere to be seen.
And so I wondered: what if we
could gain, from some high
point above, a bird's-eye view
of hills and valleys carved in us
by the torrential force of human love?
What would be there to see?
What would we recognise?
What would we not? That day
the sun-drenched cliffs and beach
unleashed a burn of feral beauty.
Off shore, the tides and river clashed,
canoes capsized, and men we'd lately
followed from the bridge
were stayed - like us, all balance lost -
bare inches from the water.
The gulls hung, poised like birds
of prey, on tiny cirrus threads;
the breakers froze, refused to break;
Creation seemed that it might take
a year to spend the day.
The sun poured wine upon the sea
as tides and Cuckmere whirled as one.
A silent and unmoving dance,
it seemed: one maelstrom,
My love, I saw this photograph
and heard, or so I thought,
our favourite song
as it might sound,
sung in a foreign language.