Chill wind and heavy skies belie this Spring bank holiday.
Robust souls dash into turbulent grey surf,
warming with thrill of swell and thrash of water.
Picnickers with pushchairs and zipped up anoraks
look on, force smiles into camera lens as Granny snaps;
pebbles prevent cricket; bucket-and-spade redundant.
Clouds race, bring blue sky with a flash of sunshine;
bathers emerge to lie and dry on the beach.
Gulls wheel and screech to pass the time of day.
Over and over, breakers rise up and lash
onto shingle smooth from ages of relentless bashing.
The sea, always-changing, stays the same for ever.
Not so the land. Just nights later huge waves rage
and crash against the coast in an angry storm,
slash and drag 20 roaring feet of cliff into the ocean,
wash away tons of stones, trash the landscape of decades,
leave the shore naked, gabions exposed
and turn shingle slope to broad expanse of sand.
He’s unaware of me walking through the room.
Face gripped by concentration,
greying hair dampened into place by a ring of sweat,
his fingers caress her black and white,
start gently before pounding in to her,
careering over every line of her skin.
As she warms up, he is transported back
to the Albert Hall, the Carnegie Hall,
the endless celebrity tours –
he sees Amsterdam, Vienna, Berlin, Sydney –
and his features relax.
Eyes dart back to the crowds making for their seats,
seeking out the elegant Swiss soprano
who followed him from city to city,
yet also meant nothing.
Hours later, he stands up from the stool,
flicks his imagined coat tails, closes her lid,
comes through to share supper with me,
his wife, his other woman.