— for C. A. Holme
Today, I walk alone, palpated by a piercing breeze;
on Dymchurch beach,
where once I would have grabbed your hand —
the old Martello tower in our wake;
a solid tympany of English Channel waves
on chalky rock, my shoulder to the jagged break.
In this life, as in others lived before,
we depend upon a strong internal beat
inside a chest, inside warm fleece;
on blood pumped to a steady pulse
despite un-forecasted storms.
In this life, once or twice, you brought me here.
We’d stroll the promenade, link arms against the cold,
and talk about the changes you had seen,
how things somehow still remain the same;
fingers pickled from tart chip-paper cones,
behind us, a trail of crumbs for the attendant birds.
I turn to gaze at Mulberry Harbour —
the caissons watertight against the heavy surf.
A colony of huddled gulls are gathered,
feathers fluffed like Aran jumpers.
Their yellow bills, my guiding beacons
in this doubtful dawn.
Remember, you were slow on blustery mornings
and lumbered like a mid-December sun.
Amongst the banks of shingle, and the best
of sea defences, I see you drinking in the air;
strong again — like a fort stretching skyward —
your face tilted toward France.
Lucy Holme lives in Cork. Her poems feature in The Stinging Fly, Southword, Bad Lilies, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, and Wild Court amongst others. She holds an MA in Creative Writing at UCC and her chapbook, Temporary Stasis, shortlisted for The Patrick Kavanagh Award, is published by Broken Sleep Books.