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Boulders on Hunstanton Beach

by John Gallas
 

Because all cockling, musselling and oystering rights here
belong, as they do, to a certain le Strange –
which right is described by a sign, and a boundary line –
all along the beach and pale view from half a pier
your doggy exercise, hoovering for a spjót or páll,
bright bird binoculars and small digestive walks, all
are honest acts, unmuddied by some ebb and flow
of secret intent, not done-but-not-meant
by obsequious travellers here below.

This low tide there’s a tractor up to its floor in sea
pretending to be some enthusiast or other about the view,
dipping a silver trailer in forbidden grounds
half a mile out in the wind for something –
something fishy : but nothing new.
No burble or glitter of disguise confounds
a well-run Deity.

Witness punishment : for their old
cockle-dreams, mussel-ruts and
oyster-itch both large and small,
regard this hellish fall !

One thousand buried transgressors !
Oh, they might look like boulders to you ;
no, no, even to you they are skulls,
wigged in greenweed, confined
for enterprises of a private kind.

Moon-struck tides pay their respects
and bow away again,
this courtesy one happy effect
of the alarmless measure of things
by which we get a flake of light :
but whether this colloidal hiss
brings up more sand upon their heads
than it takes, ebbing, away,
is a matter more of morals than of motion.

Obsessively this grey sheet is drawn
across their beds that is their second night
and as often uncovered. Where is the sense in that ?

This morning one more dome is sludged ?
Start hammering your arks together !
God’s second, cross Noyade starts here :
but tomorrow the top of one white ear

just like a shell appears – again –
ah, and we are discovered, pardoned,
and wait for an excellent rainbow,
forgiving weather, and the end of rain.

How ravelled a moral universe is
while Justice grows, falters, fails and reverses
and divine anger gathers and disperses.

If le Strange were God it would be odd
to prefer such tangled East-Anglian winds
of how and why
to the sky,
a favourite of painters here
for its unobstructed arch and brilliant blue,
its empty,
motionless,
notionless
curlicue.

(This poem appears by kind permission of the author.)


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