It’s only a few days since Christmas,
but after the joy comes a niggling sort of ache,
here by the sea, with this lonely reveller
of festive darkness, shedding needles of rain
and a glitter of shivers along the promenade;
with this foul-mouthed wind staggering
off the tide at closing-time, fetching home
a surly catch of staleness from the sea.
Stale too, all along the front, the wind’s accumulation –
gusts of greasy smells, clattering gangs of rusty cans
and whispering cronies of crumpled wrappers
that lour and loll or lobby locked arcades.
And staler still, scumming off the stranded year,
and all the years beneath, the skins, the smells
of other selves, the damaged, discarded selves –
like canisters of waste discharging at sea –
corrosive stuff, irradiating, blanching
the blood of this resort all hunched up
and left to play alone in winter rooms –
it gives off a fug of malaise, a baffled buzz
of wings on the glass, a whiff of death
behind the curtain.
Look! All the lights are wistful spies,
for a glimpse of meaning in our lives.
See, now they peer around the bay,
nudge-nudging from window to window
for the secrets up her skirts,
as holly-spangled Hesper tinsels down the sky,
and sidles over here, for warmth, to you and me.