Nell Farrell


Spiral staircases and broken ears of shells
Coils of seaweed desiccated by the short sweet bursts of sun.
Razor shells, crab claws, bight blue plastic string
Strawberry stains in the layered grey stones.

I came here years ago
Striding through the gap
In the low dunes with my towel
Greeting the hot blue of the sea.

My life was a soap opera that summer.
I spoke bad lines, uncovered plot twists I could
Laugh at sometimes, but mostly not.
A night away from everything appealed
Like lemon juice to a cut.

I remember mending a puncture
Pitching the tent on my own
A can of warm beer.
I made one phone call, wished I hadn’t,
Went to sleep when it got dark.

Next morning, half asleep and dazzled by the sea,
I huddled on a campsite bench,
With coffee and a cellophane-wrapped cake,
Soaking up warmth from the rough wood,
Repaired by the intensity of light and line.

Returning here today, I hold my breath
Against it being ordinary. It is simply different.
Houses are nearer than I remembered.

The wind is fierce. Horizontal waves of sand
Sift onto stones and skeletons of crabs.
Everything diminishes to partial,
Emerges like the picture in a magic drawing book
Beneath the gentle, thorough pencil of a child.

                                                                                        © Nell Farrell, 2000

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