Tidescape – Mary Markwell

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1976 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicators: Alan Brownjohn, Roger Guedella, Anthony Rudolf

Sometimes high tides invade salt-marshes here,
Slide in quiet channels between samphire and sea-lavender,
Then, pre-ordained, retreat, moon-dragged
To thin scribble on sky’s rim.

It is not often though that sea is winched so far,
Beyond sight, as it is today; not often its bleak
Hinterland is so extended. I walk,
Curious, charting a new country.

First, sand, rippled with shallow lapping,
Pocked with shells and little stones; then
Like wings, smooth banks carved and curved
Round pools and still-running streams.

After these, far out, a strange other-world,
A lonely planet, sculpted, silent, stark,
In surreal light; not chasm-split or heaved
In peaks, but more sinisterly

Gouged and scooped, worn with whirlpools, spun
And sucked with currents, subtly marked with violence.
It is as well concealing layers are seldom stripped
This far. We are not anxious to have such scars exposed.

Copyright © Mary Markwell 1976

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