Dungeness to Folkstone – Part 1


You and I took the train from St. Pancras
along a trail of Internationals
to Ashford. Someone must need to be somewhere,
but we were alone and in no hurry.
The number 11 bus left us
at the top of the long drive that leads down
to the reserve. One long mile to be exact.
It was raining. The wind kept our heads down
but, as we neared the first pools, wings of swifts
lifted them. Your game brought us thrillingly
close. Your game, your gentle threat; a search for
a vein in a neck perhaps. The sharp tips
of your outstretched feathers beneath my ear.

You and I took a path, long, zig-zagging,
first across marshland, then along the edge
of a military range. No bullets but
I felt vulnerable to something like
unpredictability. Restrained, the
electricity raged high above our
heads. As we reached the sea, do you remember
the two men that ran towards us, wet, red
and exhausted. We stood there, the four of
us in silence as the Channel-brown sea thrashed
and clawed at the shingle-brown beach. Their breath
recovered, they colluded a moment.
I breathed out as two turned back toward Lydd.

The sea said that the beach was impassable,
so we walked in the shelter of your spine;
a rising sea wall of shingle stretching
to A and B. The rusted, broken fence,
our marker for a decision. Keep on
we said and climbed you for a better view.
At your head a complex, all vast and dull.
No sign of the volatility which
can make the sea boil up fish for the gulls.
Next morning, at breakfast, we’ll meet a man
who’ll tell us your dying will take longer
than your lifetime. The records, the figures,
he’s preparing the ruin of your longevity.

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