The end of three days cycling in Dorset,
And we six friends peer down the avenue of this late afternoon,
Willing the sun to stay with us a little longer,
To warm our faces a little longer.
In these hours of time outside our lives,
We bathe in sweet, springtime air,
Sloughing off hard, tired skin,
Our wonder to be in the world restored.
That evening, laughing hard against the blue night,
Our footsteps ringing in the narrow lanes,
We drop down towards the harbour,
Round a last corner — and stop sharp.
Highest tide of the year:
The trawlers have reared up above the village,
And prance high above us,
White masts spinning the stars like dinner plates,
The reds, blues, the greens of their strangely revealed hulls
Glimmering on the lamp-lit quays.
The waves lap and chime against the sea walls,
Just inches from overwhelming the land.
So the boats dance for us in the streets
Their hawsers ringing, and calling
In the breeze coming to us off the deep.
Now the beers are in,
And we are as safe as postcards
Rocked by juke-box lullaby,
In the snug of an English pub.
Ruddy-cheeked, like Beryl Cook figures,
We gaze at each other, stilled,
And stupid with well-being.
At last, replete and wordless,
We take our leave and head back out
Into the cooling night.
The moon has sailed on;
She will not stay for us after all.
The tide is turning back out to sea,
The ships descend and retreat,
The breeze drops, and a bank of cloud obscures the stars.