MS (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! Jewels Of The Beach

Plash…keesh… plash…keesh

the waves throw themselves
onto the pebbly beach,
but as if they regret their own angry generosity,
pull back a sieved undertow of finer pebbles
mixed with rogh toe-grating sand;
their generosity the swathe of larger pebbles
which gleam like jewels, before the salt-water
dries them into centuries of scratched, scoured surface,
dull as familiarity.

That swathe of jewels – magic to a child;
but now I’m older, yields a mental miracle
of nature ceaselessly at work:

green bottle-glass pebble – rounded to a smooth, safe shape
for the child to spot and pick up –
that’s easy to trace: from fishermen’s magic globes, the net-floats,
or bottles thrown carelessly overboard
on some romantic cruise..

white chalk – that’s easy too: final shape
whose roundness may resist at last the restless sea
chewing away at Dover’s so emotive cliffs;
just the right size for a tiny fist
to write on concrete; it could write but scratch
that slate or blackboard with its ABC.

a gorgeous mottled red: as if from pillar
of some exotic Eastern temple; a closer look
suggests some mighty compression of the earth
that’s left a substance just about halfway
between soft Devon clay and harder granite;

and here a softer red; shaped from some brick
the sea has stolen from some poor defence;
but that will write too, stir a first artistic effort
setting off the white; but leave a trace of itself
on that small, tight fist;

now the shades of green – the hardest stone,
serpentine, which glows when wet or waxed:
how long did this stone take
to shape – and then to roll on ocean floor
from distant shore and ancient mountain range?

a whole range of semi-transparent yellow-browns,
agate and suchlike, best when wet; their structure
easily breaks down, too small for fun;

but here’s a slatey grey, veined with white, as if
some modern sculptor had seen its possible potential,
smoothed it with a loving hand; nature,
says the aesthete, meeting art..

the occasional alabaster sparkler just survives;
so dull now, that you’ll need to smash it first;
but here’s the pride of all this sea-tossed mile of treasure trove:
a ravishing, smooth, moon-white marble, maiden aristocrat;
how long, how far, to roll and sieve this
like some ageless prospector sieving for gold or diamond?
what Greek palace tipped by an earthquake
into a blue Aegean sea? Into the crummy pocket of the shorts
that one goes, to line up with its kinsfolk
on the window-sill..

a sea-shore (you can hear it in the word itself..) ,
a beach, a child with blowing hair and eager eyes;
these two spell happiness; live nature’s most compatible.

User Rating: 5 / 5 ( 0 votes ) 5

Comments (5)

To me this poem is marvelous. I love the sea, the beach, all the jewels you've written of here within...The part of me that needs to always be at or able to get there will always be childlike and that is fine....You have done the ocean and all its majesty proud in this work of yours..........marci.m. :)
I can smell the salt in this poem and feel the heat of the sun sparkling on your wet shiny jewels and slowly drying them to softer and more subdued colours. You see with the eye of the child Michael. Magical poem. love, Allie xxxxxxxxxxxxx
This appeals to the child in all of us, Michael...all the reasons we love the beach with its scattered 'jewels' and its soft whispering. Raynette
PS...A score of 10 for the sheer pleasure of the read. Fran xx
I love this one, Michael. I'm forever picking up pebbles from the sea shore and looking at their beauty (often better wet, as you mention) and wondering where they came from and how long they have been manipulated by the pounding of the waves. It's not just children who do this....... I like the phonetics at the beginning of the poem, too. Love, Fran xxx