Cuckmere Haven










We go along this pebbled shore again today, Papa.

As autumn sunset crashes- we’re just copper shadows.

Waves still rumble, clacking shingle, but

Dusty curls have stooped with your back.


Our feet skipped here, over the sea kale, once, Papa

Wheeled around like paper aeroplanes, caught up

In the gusts, we tumbled over the babbling cobbles

Chortling deep as buoyant cormorants.


You were so tall Papa,

Aegean. Athletic. Charcoal hair thrown back

That grin has carved your cheeks into wrinkles

that sag like minor tones from an old guitar.


You crouched here, Papa

Old deck shoes bent with the soles of your feet

Those smooth hands effortlessly turned the shingle,

Magnetised fingers drawn to the superlative stone.


You brought me the perfect skimmer, Papa:

Polished and plump as a fresh gravestone,

So that it danced in spraying pirouettes

Betwixt friction and flight.


Side long and an exacting flick of the wrist, Papa,

That’s how to enchant gleefully

To be choreographer of the ballet,

Until from the final leap- a fathomless bow.


And I tried, I promise I did Papa

But I never could, choose the right pebble- too

Long, uneven and fleshy- I never had

The instinctual pull, the simple knowledge

Of which dull brown gem would soar.


I screamed, don’t you remember Papa?

Kicked out puppy-limbs in protest to

My own incompetence, as every lump

Sunk- succumbing, quivering

I flushed puce in tears.



All that is echo now, Papa.

Waves murmur my wails in glum lulls,

The monstrous cliffs are ghosts behind us

And in the hush I hear you laugh at me again.



image: Cuckmere Haven

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