In the summer of paying attention
the dunes came alive with blooms.
I needed a flora to name them all
and there was no signal to run the app.
See the steely blue of sea holly
in their hundreds, the pink of campion,
clover and native geranium,
and the custard of bird’s foot trefoil
as we tramp to the five-mile beach.
It’s over twenty minutes from the car park,
so bar a few shapes far down the sand,
we are alone and dancing in the waves.
Tea in a village garden, high over fields
and woods inundated by the sea,
deliberately, its defences not rebuilt.
Pine trees stand on, though dead.
Sheep graze still in the now salt marsh.
We spend the hour tracking a buzzard
as it glides the thermals, and gasp
when it’s mobbed by crows.
Breaking our view, a woman holds
her phone next to a honeysuckle.
I tell her its name before the app.
Clean air acts
With a block of green Palmolive
my mother scrubs the collars
and cuffs of the starched white shirts
my father wears to meetings
in unnamed buildings on Aldwych.
They are black with soot and smoke
from train and tube, street and room.
Her work loosens the dirt
for the washing machine to sud away.
She tuts, and tells me again
how filthy London is.
Our wood-burning stove is now,
officially, a nuisance.
Wet wood and coal are banned
in the city as the middle classes
are to blame for the soot and smoke
that make up those tiny pollutants.
There are machines to scrub the air clean,
even in this filthy city.
Kate Noakes is a PhD student at the University of Reading researching
contemporary British and American poetry. Her most recent collection is The
Filthy Quiet (Parthian, 2019). Goldhawk Road is forthcoming from Two Rivers
Press in 2023. She lives and writes in London.