Haze eats the horizon as I stand my watch.
Flocked swallows settle in a second then
flit up into the one remaining swatch
of sky the storm clouds have not painted in.
A woman hangs wet watch to catch the wind.
A yellow duckling bobbles in boats’ wakes
and boys dive where the inner harbour takes
its leave of city and runs to the sea.
The grey comes down as softly as the flakes
of bridge paint that the rust and time set free.
The Drommedaris, built starting in 1540, is a historic fortress tower in Enkhuizen that is now used as a cultural centre and for special events.
Mad mallards dabble on the Ijsselmeer.
I do not mind them doing so, for I
am on the Beach Atlantic, where the clear
wish wash of waves unites the dunes and sky.
When winter calls me (sunburn makes me old)
my soul will fly on memories sun braised
from when, together, we fought off the cold:
You, sun, and I, the zest we raised!
‘Ephemeral are us’ and leathered skin
are pittances (our taxidermist clucks!)
when set against the profit that rolled in
when we took sea and left the marsh to ducks.
A moment, Summer. One long moment, please,
till Autumn falls and glorious pleasures freeze.
Wild ducks compete with children for the shade
in the shallow water underneath this tree.
Tan toddlers pelt their siblings with wet sand.
Few other places the Creator made
compare well with this shallow inland sea
for pretty pleasures. Children understand.
Here they are quiet and happy, and they play
at finding pirate treasure till they swim
into the sunshine. One beached duck eats bread
from a sandwich dropped off earlier today
by a duck-god, he says, daily feeding him.
His story grabs my heart if not my head.
Bright sun, sharp wind, the ferry nearing Marken.
What better way to start this afternoon
on the edge of what was once the Zuiderzee?
No bathers on the beach, no fighting ducks,
no economists dissembling spurious truths,
just neighbours neighing nostrums to each other
and a solitary man I thought I knew
once long ago who scribbles in a book.
Marken is a village across the water from Monnickendam.