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September 2006, vol 2 no 3

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Robin Lloyd Jones

Tir Nan Og, Land of the Ever Young

At 4 a.m. the sun filters through my tent. I listen to the ocean lapping at the shore and the seabirds calling. I slide my kayak over dewy grass into pink dawn water. It glides across the glassy surface.

fish splash
profound reflections
vanish

With a salute to Basho, I point my narrow craft to the North where the coastline disappears over the horizon. I paddle past colonies of seals, bays, skerries and miles of sand.

gulls rising—
a blizzard of wings
shell-flecked strands

Between islands windows open onto wider vistas. This is the ephemeral mid-tide zone which exists for only a few hours each day, a half-revealed underworld of short-lived lagoons and wet encrusted rocks. My zeppelin shadow flits across the shallows and I push through swaying kelp, thick and slippery, winking bright. A swell from an unseen ship slants across my thoughts. I land for a tea break in a quiet cove.

scrunching underfoot
dappled sea-smoothed pebbles
might be plovers’ eggs

As the day passes more islands rise above the horizon to stab the sky. My dipping paddle multiplies shoals of waning suns. Storm clouds are building. A brisk wind springs up.

where land and sea meet:
green waves, white-capped, facing
white dunes, green-topped

The sun sinks into the Atlantic, setting the massing clouds afire.

on a crescent beach
deer tracks curve from sea to sand
beneath a sickle moon

I am tiring. I look for a place to stop where I can erect my tent.
Stiff knees eased from the narrow kayak. Aching joints and muscles. At seventy-two, am I too old for this? Where can I shelter from the impending storm? Inland, I come across a rubbish dump and a rusting car slowly returning to the earth.

glinting mountain range
knife-edge ridges, fluted peaks—
crumpled plastic sheet