She woke, that summer, each day
at four twenty-five precisely;
lay there waiting for the first birds,
their anxious call,
the dawn pearling off the sea.
The last card he’d sent her:
Having a grand time, Mam,
wish you were here.
She can hear his voice, low
amongst the day’s meanderings,
the shuffle of the busy shoreline
back and forth against the tide.
Today, she’ll clear out that cupboard,
herbs and spices she’d read about
in some forgotten recipe and never used;
jars to be emptied, washed, restored;
shelves scrubbed clean
within an inch of their lives.
You damned fool, his father had said,
the first time he saw him in uniform.
She’d moved here not long after the funeral:
a walk along the pier after supper,
a cup of something warm, a few pages
of her book before putting out light.
Tomorrow, perhaps, she’ll take the bus
north along the coast, watch the waves
battering the breakwater at Staithes,
the gulls wheeling past the cliff face
into the wind.
from Aslant, Shoestring Press, Nottingham, 2019