This Is How It Happens


The cold sea folding itself over the verge,
over the pale sand, flecked
with combustible sunlight. Shadows, small.
Laughter, silent - since we cannot hear
these voices any more, since then the world
was Super-8, and perfectly still.
And besides, there is no film of this.

So that we can scumble the sky. Or re-arrange
the rocks, at will. It isnít true, unless
we insist that it is.

Some crop of rock then, somewhere impossible
between Budle and Bamburgh, between
the caravan and the rock pools. Adults: golfing.
Dogs: asleep. Big and little brothers: about
their own business.

Which leaves the four of us, mock-solemn,
holding the helium giggles in our throats,
to parade. To make, at some illiterate length,
a solemn vow, cut from
the memories of Sunday films, and filled
with ice cream, and hundreds and thousands,
and birthdays, and souvenirs
from The Copper Kettle, and lemonade with straws.

When weíre fifty, Iíll write a poem about this,
of course I will.

From the book Looks Familiar

for Fereleth, on her fiftieth birthday