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Forever, Now

by Helen Cadbury

Praise Poem for the Sea

 

I write in praise of the suck

and undertow of waves on shingle,

 

I write in praise of the grey-green

merge of water into sky,

 

I write in praise of its iron will, its urge

to drag and pull every small thing in.

 

I write in praise of its kissing

and tangling love for the wind,

 

of its teeth carving out caves

and hacking into cliffs. I write

 

in praise of the sea and the songs

of gulls, terns, kittiwakes, fisherman

 

and sailors’ wives keening unheeded.

 

I write in praise of it leaving me, stripped

to the bone, by the outgoing tide, polished,

 

transfixed, just another white stone.

I write until the paper blows away,

 

the pencil breaks, my hair whips

across my face – like a torn plastic bag

 

on a driftwood branch, my salt-cracked

lips split, my voice lost to the wind.

 

 

 

The Visit

 

When she phoned, she said you were outside

watching a bat track its nightly flight-path

between shed and porch, playing a solo,

call and response, always the same trajectory.

 

We had to work it, she and I, like the weave

of the log basket; in and out, to seem

like it was your idea. We held you easily

between us, your old weight desiccated.

 

In time, you let me in and we sat

in the conservatory, listening to the trapped

buzz of a bumblebee, while rabbits invaded

the polytunnel, ragwort spread in the veg patch.

 

But at least the grass is cut, you said,

at least I’ve managed that.

 

 

 

The Dance

 

In the dream

I am younger,

the room is huge

and I dance

over a wooden floor.

I do it often. It’s what I do.

I have a huge room,

as high as a church,

to myself and I dance across

its beautiful wooden floor

again and again.

 

When I wake

the dance is still in me.

It lightens my limbs

moves me to the kitchen.

The coffee brews on the hob

and I dance back and forth

from the table

to the fridge

and I am young

again and again.

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