By the Sea
Choices, if we had them, ended here
by the rusting pier and the litter-blown prom.
This failing by the sea was our days
spent wasting unremarkably.
These charmless streets, peeling B&B facades,
shuffling folk, shabby park and worn shops
selling whatever garish wares of happiness
we must have sought here, once. And then forgot.
Like the distant looks on the statues’ faces,
locked to promises a past can never break.
That’s why I recognise so much of what we tried,
and find it neither sad nor comically awful here,
where the sea yawns most tides in, and gulls eye
lonely figures wandering the ways regret has left them,
past the shingle’s ancient lament and the chilly breeze
that stunts the palm trees along the front.
Find instead, in this mirror-by-the-sea,
the familiar understanding of all our adequacies
that, like these, have spread their bucket dreams
before indifferent waves. Here, the real is unarguable.
Washed up along the water’s gradual line, its exactness
lies among the tar-stained polystyrene and plastic bottle caps.
Here, the gestures that we made at night – reaching
for each other – fade and snap, like these bright signs
that found the patient winter shadowing
those ice cream parlours and sun-drawn crowds.
Here, we face the vision that laps and sighs.
That on the tin-bright indiscretion of its features
paints the history of hearts and streets, and holds
them up, grinning, to the judgement of the skies.