Machine in a Landscape
(the Magnox Station at Bradwell, from Mersea Island)
The shore recedes in mist
and rocky crenulations.
The low meadow slips soundlessly beneath the tide,
disturbing our sense of distance.
Skies slide seaward
without explanation. A flight of wildfowl shuns
the margins, uncertain of direction.
We stand perfectly still.
The fogbank thins.
A tissue of weakened light undulates
to footfall on shingle, the eyelid’s movement
where compasses stall.
The siren insouciance of the undertow remains.
The dogs run ahead, barking at nothing—
bedraggled later, walking to heel,
soon wary of the waves.
The rococo sea-slap wets terrier fringes.
The shutters of the beach hut hang hingeless,
the hinges illusory, a cobweb of choke wire,
cut net, all the sea saves
for later usage, our presence here
our only offering.
The day is discovered in pools the dawn pinks,
in shattered spars at ebb tide,
the vegetable universe
totem shadows strutting clockwise with the sun.
Out on the flats a whelker spades.
The figure sinks into the lees,
digging down, down.
The island turns and turns again, but cannot run.
From the centre of the world,
we look up and wave,
tireless in our manner, diggers of the well or grave
This half-life outlives us.
The thug of time is barking down a hole. Shadows
melt and run.
At the centre of the world, X-ray figures shrug.