THE SEA-WALL

 The headland has been raided,

eaten, broken away —

a carcass that hyenas

have found. It is the quarry

 

for the wall, drawn from it,

a rough intestine of stone;

this jumble of shapes like

DNA or protein.

 

Among them, a cement lane

goes nowhere, to carry

with bold gesture to sea

just the track of the railway

 

that built it (now rust flakes

and the sleepers’ imprint).

Added each side, more recent,

are great blocks of cement.

 

The purpose the wall served

has been lost, apart from

that of swimmers and paddlers,

now that ships never come.

 

From the wall, looking back past

broken edge and sharp angle,

the line of the headland

holds its ravaged blue metal.

 

Beneath that contour of

The grass, supple as wire,

unbroken panes of stone

surge, a turned-up gas fire.

 

I have seen the wall at dawn

from its headland — silhouette

of a stamen, weighed with seed,

amid the sea’s milky-white.

 

The people come here early

to sit on flat roof-tops

in a street of skewed pueblos,

which they drape with bright stripes.

 

And here, they pluck the garden

of the sea, in its alcoves,

or snorkel above rocks,

and laugh when ocean shoves

 

heavily (a whale with spume)

the outer curve. They cover

just eyes and genitals,

organs of too much pleasure.

 

Behind them, soap flakes sprinkled;

then higher, along the sea,

soap-powder; and then lathered

clouds, a whole bright laundry.

 

Children ride their bikes here,

and men gut fish they’ve caught;

a woman on the ocean

has a red towel drawn straight

 

behind her, and levers it

slowly back and forth; her breasts

solemnly eye those passing.

the finest sea-spray floats

 

in the hair on forearms, on

a girl’s lip; feet are slapped

through puddles; in chevrons

of shade, picnics unpacked.

 

The sea’s striped purple, blue-green,

chrome. Nearby, an idle yacht;

a black dog, framed by its sail,

on a pedestal, alert.

 

Slightly curved, as fishing rods

are, the wall unfailingly

will sprout its riffled fine bristles

on the days that are holy.