Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library

From Canto 2

On a North Sea shore

It’s the last drops of sun that catch fire, flowing between sea line
and a fat roll of storm – incoming and weighed down with hail.
On the beach the tide turns gently, laying the sea’s weeds in the slack
water where mermaids leave their purses on the strandline.
Farne and Longstone islands appear as silhouettes of U-boats forever
surfacing in the swell. Their lights regard the rock-boiled water,
scanning the shallows and the profounds, the drying rocks and reefs:
Knivestone, Whirl, Glororum Shad – beaming regret to wrecks lost inside the kelp.

What the lighthouses have withstood in silence, the gulls rail against, singing
of that sorrow, buried in us so deep, that no blade will ever cut it out.

But give the wind time, and it intends to scour the world clean.

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