A salty wind scuds over waves, grey-tipped, cresting for shore.
The small girl watches how the sand dimples and sinks,
hollow and wet with the weight of her footprint,
then swells when freed, breathing skywards once more.
Closer and closer to the water’s edge,
her hair catches on dry lips, the golden threads taste
of salt-sea air; sharp coastal breezes fluttering fast
on the rounded cheeks of a girl from the past.
She’s unaware of the small creature in its watery bloom,
floating, growing silently in her mother’s womb.
But some old, forgotten pattern, translated into water,
calls her name too, speaks softly to her -
calls the name that she’s known from long ago,
before she uncurled like an ammonite, a lost trace,
slippery and gasping into life’s earthly embrace:
It speaks of endless moment, of a different, far-off place.
No one can say why she walks forward into the water.
Thoughts of the beach, her net and bucket, her family,
the dark sand she steps on – all are locked behind her
as she pushes deeper and deeper to Finisterre.
Quartering dark centuries, ploughing waves with bold laveer *
- until they simply disappear her with a final curling lick,
a silent, singularly unimportant grey-crested tip
which then vanishes in the tide’s relentless slick.
It’s only when they pull her out, back into spring sunshine,
back to dappled light and the firm touch of wet, shivering skin,
and she coughs with the shock, the shock of breathing,
of life thrusting itself upon her once more,
so that salt mingles with salt as the tears
fall like rain on her mother’s cheeks -
it’s only then that she feels the long memory cease
and she opens her eyes with a sense of release.
*laveer: archaic nautical expression, meaning to beat against the wind; to tack when sailing