This is our coastline. We have mapped it,
claimed it with feet and eyes and breath:
Skerne, where we saw the sparrow hawk,
the place where the cormorants
hang their black wings out to dry,
the rounded cobbles, mapped with barnacles;
and Sandymere, where I’ve seen fish
thrown up and dancing in the cresting waves;
and Westward Ho! – all fish and chips
and ice-cream cones, and serious rock pools.
Abbotsham and Peppercombe, Bucks Mills –
deep valleys running to the sea,
steep wooded walls and bluebells
and a badger, once. Fairy Cross
and Blackchurch Rock and Hartland Quay,
where the sun drops heavily
behind the sloping rock
and all the cliffs are carved back,
stripped to the deep past.
Shipload Bay is seals and sandwiches –
then Welcombe Mouth, Gull Rock
and Crackington, and Sandymouth:
Pebbles and sandy feet and
salt-caked skin. Herring gulls and peregrines.
The day the swallows came.
The sea claws at the land here,
seal-grey, scouring at angles,
carving, carving. We have left
our laughter here, our voices
calling, calling. We’ve left our fading
photographs and sea-bleached stories
to be washed clean and worn away.
For Sherry, at earthweal, who asks us to say the names of the places we care about.