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Open sesame.

Right here, you turn a key
and unlock a door to the sea.
You see the watery horizon
and note how waves made the tide-line.

I go to this door often;
sometimes not even opening it
but sensing still, the vast ocean
that stretches beyond imagination.

On some days, the door is stuck,
the wood swollen from the wet,
but still it can be nudged and pushed on creaking hinges of rust and salt.

In westerly winds, the door flaps,
banging hard all night long,
forcing storms to come to its foot,
enraging the sea's swell and pull.

The paint has worn from it
and barnacles now coat their stone,
but the flaking door still stands,
a higher force determining it.

I travel far, but knowing it is there,
brings comfort rolling back:
a portal into the caulk of me,
the sexton to each new navigation.

Beyond, are those boats and stars,
the prows of all traverses and traipses,
but as surf's ingression laps, egress too:
a lock that never needs unpicking.

And ‘Open', now speak the seven seas to me.




That year, the beaches were empty.
No bright dinghies bobbed on the tide.

The surfers were told please don't come
and the B&Bs shut their doors.

They got turned around at the Tamar.
They got asked to stay at home.

The strand remained untouched.
And no castles were formed from the sand.

Things reverted to how they once were
and you could hear the birds sing again.

Somewhere, the World had decided
that a change was on the cards.

It was to do with the way we treated it. We assumed so much, took so much always.

We let rare species fall as lost grains of sand,
and tossed plastic beads into the spume.

One day, it had enough and said no more
and so the sea got taken away: quarantined.

With it, went all the layering;
stuff we pretended was important.

We'd been told before, warned before,
but we took no notice of that advice.

Too many people, too much self,
too much consumption, too little care.

And so the ocean and cliffs
were put in a cupboard and locked away,

until we had learnt our lesson,
until we promised to play nice.

Arrogance would no longer do.
We'd have to face ourselves.

The World did its quiet cleansing
and helpless, we looked on.

On social media, all we could do
was to share photographs of past waves

and wish that things had stayed the same:
that viral beads would simply disappear.

Much was hoped for, much was said,
a quick furloughed fix and that's it;

this, despite confined sea-nymphs still
loudly ringing their chosen knell.

From the collection 'The Mouth of Truth' (2021) from Francis Boutle Publishers.