St Stephen’s Day, between Polzeath and Daymer Bay, Cornwall

Benched up, watching

staring at the wrangle rock wrecked sea

[its message is confused from the North Americas]

are you perhaps the daughter?

A daughter once young

now old

but nevertheless,

the daughter of the woman whose name is on the bench?

It says Mary but I read Joy,

for the joy she took at sitting here

are you the daughter who named the bench

and was your relationship joy?

I see the hunched shoulder

waiting to be touched,

the bald spot and seabrack skin

can you not unburden yourself as I stare from behind?

And do you see the way back waves

the steady horizon drawn in relief,

are they your relief

as they were Joy’s?

Or, perhaps these sensations are foreign born

perhaps, not understanding the mother

you might find her here

in the gulls

the ravens

crying for attention and hanging

like a wave about to peak

suspended and above?

I think about coming to you

I think about approaching your blue jacket to talk about Joy

but people watch,

holidaymakers expressionless

sitting in baying bungalows

still, calm

like exhibits in a Jo Hogg film

and my sister and mother, for example,

giant stride the cliff edges, immersed in themselves

Was this your relationship with Joy?

you still sit

I have walked up and down by you many times

but now I must go and leave you

You never knew, did you

how I saw you so often

and empathised?

And your thoughts?

Who can say.

after Kleinzahler and for Mary, whose bench resides on Polzeath cliffs before Greenaway.


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