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Summer time – holidays, beach days…


Summer time – sea and sand…

We live near the sea, so find ourselves there quite a bit, not just at this time of year. Especially now though, with grandchildren expecting a day on the beach. 
Buckets and spades, bats and balls, bags of food and drink, towels and clothes and all that paraphernalia we lug down… playing on the sand is both a simple and a complicated business.


I don’t know if it’s something to do with getting older, but increasingly now when I’m at the seaside I find myself reminded of death and destruction.

The very sand is substantially made up of countless shells, exoskeletons of once living creatures, each one painstakingly self-constructed.  From them all, the life has gone.  And now the gracefully fashioned ceramic, the solid part that managed to survive (if that be the word), long after the contents vanished, is itself ground up, or down, into dust – or, in this context, sand.

Then there’s the crab containers, the cuttlefish shields, cast off pincers and all the unrecognisable fragments, bits and pieces of so many bodies, washed up and blown around. And now reduced.  I crunch along, crushing all this residue, contributing to its further disintegration.

The whole landscape can be seen as one colossal, ancient, but still living (so to speak) graveyard.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit grumpy.
Of course, I love being in the water, the fresh air, sounds and big skies, and can’t help but share the happiness of dog and children, so such morbid thoughts are often blown away.

But there’s a certain beach, one that we only occasionally visit, which can seriously depress me.  Partly because of the wanton destruction that I once witnessed there – the fact that members of my own species did this, and with such delight – but (perhaps mainly) because I failed to say anything.

OK, it wasn’t a living thing that was destroyed.  I hope it’s not too anthropomorphic to say that a musical instrument possesses characteristics which justify some respect, even in old age when its functions are lost. Perhaps those very qualities account for some of the events, the actions and reactions, that took place?

I’m not sure, but the dispersed materials will have long since been dissolved, consumed and recycled.  Maybe even made it into sand.



End of a Piano

The iron skeleton, green bearded, stubbled
with barnacles encrusted and rusted
is revealed at low tide.  It was a public spectacle.
No blood was shed, though one got a blister.

The men laid in with heavy hammers –
those same ten fingers fit for performance
became fists round a handle. Each for himself,
a single striker, playing con forza

they splintered the shell which fell apart
revealing an expectant row
of flimsy little felted hammers
to be smashed, then rods and dampers.

For some resistant mechanism
a hand plunged in to wrench it out.
Keys were buckled, splayed and shattered.
In this discordant final recital

they played the piano to its death.
As for the music stand and pedals
I cannot say what happened
but bits were stamped into the sand.

In victory astride what remained
they smiled and posed for the photos,
hammers still in hand.  There was no carnage –
except for that blister.

All this I saw from my window
in silence.  The tide returned.
Panels and actions soon floated away,
leaving that wreck of a frame.



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