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.









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

bare floor

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 light

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