(For Sarah Monette)
The headland, the lighthouse, the rocks, the far shore
are all the setting for that restless jewel, sea.
The sky is wintry, so the sea is swelling iron,
save where the wind ruffles it to foam
and where the shore breaks it, to pound and run back.
The sea is endless and timeless,
changeless, yet changed in each wave,
wearing the rocks, tearing the cliff,
eternal in its fluid moods and colours.
The sand is gritty cold, but not enough to hurt.
The pebbles are smoothed and mixed by the tide,
sandstone and limestone, kind to the feet.
There are shells, black seaweed, the prints of a dog.
The tide is coming in, and coming towards it,
you might think a man, shambling
across the strip of sand under gull-swirled skies,
Judas Iscariot, let out from Hell on Candlemass
to ease his torment in the sea.
2nd February 2002