WEYMOUTH, AUGUST, TO OWE WON TOO
for Tony Lopez
Hush now! You mustn't speak the year aloud.
Commercial interests hi-jacked it along
With five bright-coloured rings supposed to land
Like hoop-la on each continent. Few signs
Here of Olympic sea-activity
Except a long blue plastic fence which cuts
Off beach and distance. Kind “ambassadors”
In mauve shell out small maps. In gusty sun-
light grannies, little girls with faces daubed
Like cats, youths swaggering, a harassed mum
Or two make up the cast for holidays
Beside the sea-side where you tend to see
A clock of flowers and a putting-green
So refugees from sinks and offices
Have time to play. Towards the east some sand's
Left free for castle-building, picnics, towels
To sprawl on and get tanned - but near the end
A rectangle in lonely splendour flaunts
Some words in electronic orange to
Intrigue the passers-by with phrases set
Together in sly relevance for pure
Enjoyment as the Dorset curve fades off
With cliffs of green and white into the mist.
DIALOGUE IN LIMBO
Have you been here long? I don't know. You see
I've only just arrived. (He looks round) It's
so strange here. Strange? Well, yes! (He laughs) It's grey.
All grey. No sky or distance. Hard to get
one's bearings here. You keep on saying ‘here'.
That's meaningless. We're nowhere you and I.
(He gestures cautiously) There may well be
some others standing in this dry mist lost
as we are. Who's to know? You're lost then? Yes.
I think so. Since the past has gone. Gone? I
don't understand. It's left me. There's a void.
Nothing before or after. Only now.
I see. (He frowns) I think I see. You've lost
your memory. Perhaps you're right. (He shakes
his head) I'm not so sure. Can you recall
your name? (Pause) Something with two syllables.
That's all? That's all. I'm sorry. There's no need
for sympathy. I'm used to emptiness.
(He smiles) You can't regret what wasn't there.
I see that. But I wouldn't like to lose
remembrance. What's your name? (Long pause) I'm not
quite sure. (He snickers) Funny that. A lapse.
That's all. It'll come back though. Bound to. Do
you have a wife? A wife? I think so. What's
her name? (Long silence) I don't know. We have
a child. Two children. One's a boy. He's called ---
That's slipped my mind as well. (He starts to sob)
I can't remember anything. No. That's
the way it is. You'll get accustomed to
the blankness, absent future, movements sensed
but unexplained beyond these walls of fog.
You'll come to terms with it like me. What then?
I need the open spaces to compose –
a moor, a mountain-top, a cliff-path by
a thorn-set hedgerow with a single rose
listening to what the sea's not saying. Why
should what one does lack weight within the world
unless you massacre a millionaire,
fly cryptic flags not meant to be unfurled
or find a recipe to make despair
shrink like a blob of water in the sun?
The strand below lies between scarlet caves
and mild incoming tide. No quicksand. Should
the rain hold off nothing will scrape the waves
but zephyrs gently. There's no call for gun
or arrow back in the enchanted wood.
The bare cathedral stripped of pews
a columned barn with strips of sunlight
walking where people sat
side-chapels emptied too
no altar rail no brocaded hassocks
stone bench against the wall
spine not touching red flowers
painted there five hundred years ago
gazing at emptiness through emptiness
an emptiness full of something more than air
than scent of lilies
than memories hovering above each tomb
than shadows when jackdaws pass the window
a voice unspoken
to clarify the inexplicable
'nothing but God'
St. Gabriel's Chapel, Exeter Cathedral
July 8th 2012
© Harry Guest 2013