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.
The blackbird sings instructions for his son
on how and when and where and why to fly.
His wife looks on and when she thinks he’s done
she shows their son the birdbath. Later, dry
enough for summer, Pa sings of frost and cats,
and Ma chants rhymes of when the berries ripen.
All three birds practise blackbird riffs and scats
as if they’re horns for music God pipes in
to underscore the beauties of this world.
The score extends and galaxies unwind
and hang half out of sight like flags unfurled
on misty moors at dawn while I, half blind
to what they sketch, smile as song fades away
for here birds sing the world alive each day.
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.
When summer ends and locust-song is stilled,
then winter winds will come and splash grey rain
upon these tables; where we now serve chilled
rosé, and rest, and celebrate how brain,
or mind, can make out meanings; winkle pain
from dumb paint globs: these daubs, those speckled floors.
My neighbour here proclaims her brushes course
with purest beauty. Looks to me a mess:
a mix of mangled manual metaphors.
She’d ostracise me were I to confess.
The late August sun sees fine, fat spiders sleeping.
They drift in dreams that scud among their eyes
like tiny mimics of the clouds’ light leaping
to tag the sun that bathes the August skies.
One spider had a fly beside her weeping
at tales she whispered, wrapping him in lies
and myths. She sleeps. He struggles, accepts fate,
as he thinks back on the smaller beings he ate.
Eight bells on board. Ashore it’s four o’clock.
Time for a drink, the tourists and I think.
The terrace on the waterfront is chock-
a-block with whistles warbling for the clink
of glasses pushed along the long bar’s zinc
and on to trays the waitress swishes out
to praise in all the languages that shout
discretely – we are civilised, though dry –
as sailing Europe pushes the boat out
and wine regales us all with glasses high.