Saturday, 16 February 2008


Restless, I went walking again, northward along the beach. The village was soon left behind and I had the path to myself. Which is anthropocentric if ever a statement was. Curlew, oyster catchers, lapwing, redshank, terns, and gulls populated the strand and the low sandy fields on the other side of the path. Signs of excavation in the fields were evidence of rabbits and the mounds of moles were outnumbered only by the barbaric display of their wind dried corpses swinging from the barbed wire. I could not help but catch a glimpse of the battlefields of France of Belgium.

The waves were soothing. A gentle swell pushing a short distance up the shingle, creaming around the rocks. Beneath the cliffs they broke now and then, surging up a long shallow slope just below the water line, curling over and streaming fine spray. And further north, the swell swirled round rocks just off the shore where seals lay hauled up, watching me for a moment with lazy eyes before giving themselves back to enjoyment of the rare winter sun.

There is a sense of the primeval here. The rocks are ancient, some of the oldest on the planet. It is no wonder, then, that I washed up here; no wonder that so many paths pass through. One even begins here (although it is best avoided). They are not easy to see. Travellers know where they are. Cannier locals notice the places that fish, birds, and animals avoid. I see them with clarity, the sapphire lattice that shimmers. I pull my coat tighter. It will be a while before I return.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Village by the shore

The beach here is beautiful at this time of year. Once the sun has gone down it is usually deserted and one can stand in the growing dark beneath the bleached blue and wait for the pale stars. The chill air is clean and sharp against the face. A reminder of other times and other places with the only pain an ache in the heart. Em would have loved it here, perhaps found peace and the chance to pick up the threads…

She would have loved the hospitality as well. Somewhere quiet and warm in exchange for tales. No noise, no pressure, a bit of gentle laughter, and so many books. Knowing there is a place like this makes everything else possible. I wish I had known it sooner.

Even though I am tired, I cannot stop. I carry the weariness, the constant ache, the knowledge that there is no home to which I can return. It is not a burden, but sometimes it hurts – deep and sharp. My war wound.

Here I can ease the pain a little and tell my story. Perhaps one helps with the other. But the story does not finish with the books. I know that now. So there may be more. For now we must be content.

This evening was particularly cold. A smoky sunset leaked pale amber across the horizon. Frost was forming on the stones and the grass as I walked back up from the sluggish waves. The houses of the village looked… comfortable. It was a scene to savour. It isn’t always like this. Sometimes there are ruins. Sometimes nothing but an empty beach. Today was a good day. Of sorts.

beautiful enemies/killing machine

snow falls
drifts compounded
pervading loneliness

in this tiny room
with summer gone
the invasion blankets memories
there is no time left for dreamers

bleak winterscapes
then merely time
till the merging
with frozen wastes
where beautiful enemies
command death
where saviours whose faces are lost
in starglow of centuries
laugh in darkness

the scars of dreams
burn cold
savage in loneliness
ice in the heart

dragging their feet
the grey men
fearing only thunder
burning the stars from yesterday

fields gone
beneath this edifice
of benign suffocation

in the darkness
harsh edges fade

silence of night resting machines
that is not silence
echoes of breath in corridors
soft footfall of a
living being
seeking a way out

in the darkness lights spring up
assert the permanence
of this invasion

cold winds
come bitterly
to the door
outside light enough
to stumble through ruins
shelter from embers

the screams
of a faceless laughing echo
whisper skullward
across that silence
words dust dry on lips
grey dreams
uncommon in the sight of gods
in fear