The tides of
and the next tomorrow
sweep into crevices of shored shells.
The waves nudge these hollows of yesterday’s habitat
into the barrels of
and the next tomorrow.
There the shored shells
break with tomorrow,
and another tomorrow dashed
to granules that lip the tideline.
Salted foam seeps this watermark
and in the kelp-laurels sandhoppers dance.
While paging through the anthology of Chinese poems on my bookshelf, I came across a nostalgic poem in which the poet embarks on a journey in his imagination and progresses to reminisce about his favourite landscapes. (The poem was Su Tong-P’o’s Inscribed on a Painting in Wang Ting-Kuo’s Collection Entitled “Misty River and Crowded Peaks”)
He ends the poem,
Returning to your painting, I’m taken by sighs of sad wonder.
I have old friends in those mountains,
and their poems keep calling me home.(p. 381)
I loved this image of his friends’ poems calling the poet/speaker home. This was the starting point for my poem. Who would I call home with my poetry, if I could?
There is a crescent of beach to which my melancholy imagination often turns. This fragment of strand is in Betty’s Bay, one of my favourite spots in the world. It is in this place that my call home is set.
I often write to capture moments that I have experienced in solitude. Consider for example the afternoon that produced this poem, “On a rock amongst rocks“. I had walked out beyond the beach of white sand to the rocky inlet beyond the seafront houses, the fishermen and the dog owners. Each day I used this landmark as the half-way point measure of each afternoon’s walk. That day I climbed onto the rocks.
These rocks are the jagged kind. If you walk across them barefoot, a delicate tread will still not circumvent the occasional stab to your sole. The sky was grey. Into the tide-carved chasms between the rocks dashed the waves. As the wave foam tossed against the jagged rocks, a further alchemy transpired. I would not have noticed the elemental magic had I not stood on that spot in stillness.
As the sea spray dispersed, it caught the light. On the rocks, bordered by the sea, encased in this salty mist, I stood within an orbit of tiny rainbows.
When the last rays fire
after which all will be still and ashed
Here, on this rock I wish to stand
to see the end of time.
From here you face due South;
face the end of the world, but
between you and then blue-grey barrels roll
toward the shore where
rocks cut the spring tide foam
into a thousand fragment sprays;
rainbows caught because
I have watched today.
The above poem was worked from the following notes, taken in early 2012 while I was enjoying the sanctity of Betty’s Bay. Betty’s, as it is affectionately known, is a small holiday town on South Africa’s southern coastline:
Today I stood on a rock amongst rocks worn flat by time and watched the spring tide. The powerful blue-grey sea rolled towards the shore and crashed against the sharper rocks ahead. The white foam sprayed a thousand fragments into the air and at that angle the sun caught the water droplets in perfect rainbows. Here, on this beach, I wish to see the end of time.