Daring the Waves

 Hard sand almost covered by the tide,

soft surge of ripples, half circles approaching,

retreating. Farther out, breakers, ominous, rising,

falling into sulphurous sea, lunging, roaring.

I splash my feet, running the tide line, stumbling

back to the shingle, soon to be washed clean,

turning away as the water surges closer,

I leap to the shingle, scraping my toes,

the sea now reaching me, cat and mouse.

I clutch at the cliff face, seeking a foothold

scrabbling and stretching, the sea at my knees.

I find a roughness, haul myself up, finding

purchase for my feet, seeking another handhold,

the cliff face is smoother, I daren’t look down,

gasping with exhaustion, the sea touches me,

I recoil, the cold shock, the breakers so near,

spray on my face, the next wave will take me.

No! I shout to the lowering sky, the angry tide.


Then a voice, calling my name, above me.

You are here, you have come to find me,

leaning over the edge, your arm dangling,

you stretch out your hand, hauling me upwards

till I lie with you on a grassy plateau.


Afterwards I was afraid, suppose you’d been too late,

after my strength had gone, the sea embracing me.

I’d left you in your own world, different to mine,

it’s possible I may never have crossed your mind.

You gave me coffee and brandy, a bath, warm clothes.

“What did you think you were doing!” you say.

How could I tell you, when I hardly knew myself

Only that I was looking for some great experience,

something taking me beyond our ordinary life.


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