EXTRACTS FROM NORTH UIST SEA POEMS

decoration

each wave writes
its own fine line
a wavescape scribbled on the sand
which is rewritten every day

OCTOBER 14th

The sea fine wrinkled
like my own skin
slack on the bone
not making waves
just a splash
at the last moment
before the ebb.

NOVEMBER 21st

Grey on grey
the corrugated iron sea
one shade deeper than the sky
washes in reluctantly.

JANUARY 11th

The
sea
out of control

blaming
the moon

and the conniving wind

NEVER BEFORE

Grown men tremble when they meet,
have never seen, never felt
not in living memory, never before.
And they know storms.
Marooned in the blind dark,
never so long a black night
the sea rising, never before so high,
shuttering in across open fields
pursued by the frantic wind

Houses shook in the suck and push of it,
the smack of rain and the banging.
Not knowing what was banging,
walking from room to room with torches,
drowsing not sleeping, finding buckets
to catch water dripping through ceilings,
listening for the ebb for a slackening
which never came.

In the late dawn of cold morning,
tales are told of causeways fallen,
roads barred by boulders
shoals of seaweed swept inland
of roofs blown off,
of sheds fetched up on other crofts,
a slate through a window impaled on a pillow
an old woman afloat on her bed
and people up to their waists in water
and forty sheep flocked dead in a corner
and mile after mile of grass and black plastic
clinging to broken wire fences.

Never before such a torn island
and the west coast shoreline gnawed to the bone.

THE WAY DOWN

The way down
no longer is the way down
the storm has sliced the dunes like cake
and clawed the sand away.
The drop is sheer, twenty feet or more.
I want to push my boots into the edge
and leaning back slither down onto the shore
and shout my anger at the waves for what they’ve done
but the sea is scouring in. I sense its hunger and I hold my tongue.

Even
a ribbon of kelp
propelled by the wind
leaves its pale trace in the sand

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