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March 2009, vol 5 no 1

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Graham High



Driftwood

The sea in winter receives few visitors. This small coastal village has closed its curtains to outsiders. The summer amenities have been packed away. It is the sea itself that hauls me in.

blue nylon trawl nets
on a rusted frame—
grey sky held captive

The deserted beach leads nowhere. In the out of season winter has its own colours, more muted but penetrating to the eye against the season's grey.

in my pale fingers
the bright intrinsic pink
of a crab shell

For the diligent beachcomber there are treasures to be found: small incidents of colour among the stones; fragments from distant voyages; detritus of other lives, other times.

hint of old paint
on the figured driftwood—
empty beach huts

Further along the sea edge the tide disappears into vegetation. The sand becomes mud and the sea squeezes itself into an estuary. Stunted trees begin to crown down a terrain increasingly mixed. The land becomes more overbearing in the dusk. Walking a shoreline gives you direction but no destination. I begin to get tired.

gnarled tree
half buried on the foreshore—
I rest in its roots

As I rise to continue my journey I can see that a sea fog is rolling in. The stones and rocks are already damp to the touch. Small gnarled trees grow close to the tideline. They shroud spaces which are cold and dark.

lichen on the lee side
of stunted shoreline oaks—
sea mist in my beard

The fog thickens and the night clouds in from the sea begin to herd together. As the last light leaves the sky I can just pick out an orange glow of windows in the distance up ahead of me: a focal point of welcome to the wanderer.

lights at the Ship Inn—
the sea wind whistles through
a rusty anchor

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