Trips To The Farne Islands, 1960-1966

Shambolic at the pier, where lobster pots,
thick ropes, and metal snags, and stink of fish
fill every space, we see the distant blots
where we are being herded. I just wish
the rungs were not so greasy, that the boat
would stop its bobbing. Queasy, we’re afloat.

An annual family treat. The outboard’s phlegm
distracts me briefly from the heave and swell
on which we’re riding. (Someone: “Look at them,
the islands, it’s the Farne Isles!”) Bloody hell,
this breeze is brisk. I wonder when this farce’ll
finish. Slosh. I’m thinking Kirrin Castle

was not like this is. Where is Smuggler’s Cove?
We land. The lighthouse, whitewashed, shuts its eye.
The picnic’s laid. We wander round; we rove
vaguely around the rocks, until the sky
turns pale. The sun’s a distant, umber ember.
We won’t be back again till next September.

From the book Rime Present