Greetings on World Poetry Day! At the 30th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, 1999, it was decided to mark 21 March as an annual celebration. Poetry has “the unique ability to capture the creative spirit of the human mind”.
I’ve chosen a poem with international connections, a lot of people, fruit – a festive gathering on a Dutch beach. It’s from my collection Nothing serious, nothing dangerous.
On the beach
after My boat by Raymond Carver
Bill’s last words were always Have fun, so I will.
He was a very good father, Bill, though he wasn’t my father.
Liz will be there too. And Mary and Brian, the Como couple.
Seville will be there, all the places I ever fell in love with.
We’ll be on a beach, a wide sandy beach with small white shells,
large white gulls and far off, in the distance, the red container ships,
nothing dangerous, nothing serious.
At the flood line broken razor clams crackle under our feet.
There is Dick, almost 80, and Miep, their cycles parked up
against the metal wire by the marram grass dotted on the dunes.
Esther, Peter, Theo, Ancilla on their e-bikes, they love this beach.
Skewered fruit, Water Melon Men and the three Irish men I loved,
and the others, the artist with one eye has come back from Hungary.
Boats will be there, beached. We’re all beached.
My UK friends have come by ship, a ship with starched officers,
a ship from Southwold that I specially chartered.
I invited J S Bach, Schubert and anyone else whose names I am forgetting.
I have been given dispensation – hey, that sounds medical,
nothing dangerous, nothing serious, the friends who are
no longer friends, what’s rejection, abandonment among true friends.
Apples, oranges, enough grapes to count in the new year,
fresh figs, plums, peaches, kiwi fruit for sleep, passion fruit.
With all that fruit we are fit to count our blessings, our nine lives.
Have fun. The tide’s out, and it is a long time before it’s coming back in.