"Wish You Were Here" by Alan Garvey  
Taken from his Collection "Learning to Crawl.


WISH YOU WERE HERE

(I)


Coastal backdrop of mountain,
lichened harbour rock,
fields and trees afloat at sea.

Dandelions shed stars
to set your compass by,
fleck of whitethorn, briar.


(II)


You were the ocean spray
that flew about my face —
a hot day’s drink of cool.

Your body, white
as a wall of surf, foaming over
every directional aid at my disposal.


(III)



I did not love you
as the earth, my home,
rather the sky, red or blue;

wind or voice that domes
the Word, frame
to all I give name.


(IV)


Trees shake their leaves,
raindrops fall
in a rousing breeze

spattering the pages
of an open book,
footsteps beating a path.


(V)


Sand we brought back caught
in the most awkward places,
rubbed home in mutual disgrace.


(VI)


Plummeting drops
in flocks and shoals
fall on favourite spots,

gulls, always hungry,
whirl about, screaming,
too proud to beg, angry.


(VII)


Chicks fall from nest to fissure
where they call, in vain,
for their mothers.


(VIII)


Kittiwakes whitewash the cliff
in a succession of drips,
keen at peaceful, passing ships.


(IX)


Morning fog played trickery,
misleading mist unwound
in hands and faces of those before us.


(X)


Today lost the key
to our front door.
Today no longer speaks

in terms of we.
The beat of my clock,
tick-tock, becomes two weeks.


(XI)


I held you in my hands
only two weeks ago, turned
you over, traced your lines,

made my cruel demands.
I threw you back to the sea
with blessings and thanks.

That was not done lightly.
Now you’re free I wonder
who will you pick up after me?


(XII)


No more will I italicise
the simplest lies
for you.

No more will
the grasses bend
to our shapes

or cumulus stretch
across the blue
to connect.


(XIII)


Waves rumble to shore,
tides pull back and forth:
a stylite perched on a sea-stack

breathes in, breathes out
a mantra of solid air
where I is one and all is none.


(XIV)


Beards of seaweed
freeze in the shadow
of shore-side rocks,

strings of rosary beads
that wait for spring
so they may thaw

in words
of forgiveness
from a time-locked jaw.


(XV)


Legs, shoulders and breasts wracked
as if the sea paid heed
to a last request for decency.


(XVI)


Your ring shaped
like a tropical fish
skewered on my desk,

its paint flaking away
as dates peel
from a calendar.


(XVII)


Rock-pools are plumbed,
stones lifted for a sign;
I fly above yet struggle for rhyme.


(XVIII)



Floats are repaired
at the harbour,
anchors weighed

for boats that fish
for a Eucharist
in the unwritten mist.


(XIX)


From glacial valleys
to the first sight of sea
as it glistens between hills

dancing millions of rills
sing their way back
to source.



 



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Copyright © Alan Garvey 2008
All rights reserved
The author has asserted her/his right under Section 77
of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988
to be identified as the author of this work.

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