Hard to hear clearly
on that breezy shore:
shouted anniversary wishes –
and intermitting signal, what’s more.
Only now the frail connection’s gone
and I’m browsing crowded stalls
for postcards, magnets, souvenirs,
it’s as if a few words of broken language
might come and catch me unawares –
because, yes, love, I’m wondering again
at resurgent silences, old scenes,
here, on the continent’s edge,
in this late-summer seaside town.
You’d never seen
quite so many bicycles, racked
as if for the start of a race
or quick getaways.
Sulphur light and thin fog
colluded in that clogged lane,
devices of a mood
which had closed in too soon
and made little sense
from where I stood,
to convince you or distract.
Without time to grow sure
of street plans, orientations,
alleyways’ jags and shortcuts,
I could be here for hours
and none the wiser for it:
a day of places I’ll not find again.
From a terrace let into the castle wall,
the bay’s streaked by what’s left of the sun.
First promenade lights are turned on –
and here I am, love, frightening myself
with thoughts of how close we’ve come
to there being no way back at all.
Tom Phillips, January 2014