Sunday, 11 July 2010


This night tide was to be,
we had been warned,
the highest for forty years.

All alarm, however, was unwarranted.
There was neither wind nor wave, only the pulse of tide,
the heartbeat of an ancient world.

Brimming slowly, calmly, inch by inch,
the flood came to our sandbagged doors.
The dark waters were coming to call
but would not cross our thresholds.

From the famous sandstone cliffs
the weathered trees bending low
marvelled at so much water and so calm.

While all along the tide’s cutting edge
the cottages, the forsaken limekilns,
even the admiral’s high clock tower
reflected on the splendour of the night.

Towards midnight
the whole village came out to see
the dazzle of diamonds,
emeralds, rubies rocked by this jet black, polished tide
and the pale swans, like parish ghosts
yearning for hearth and home,
that drifted high up our lanes and slipways
to peck at stars and planets.

Children, fetched from bed for this grand occasion,
splashed along the drowned sea wall in rubber boots
to envy a wild few, whose parents knew no better,
dipping like midnight mermaids in the flood.

Boats rode high on their cables
rising up from the depths of their shelter
to loom gondola black and proud
and fond fathers took their families for a float
poking an oar where oar was never poked before.

Our cup was full to the brim
with not one drop spilled
and when the gracious moon,
she who worked all this magic,
rode by and smiled down on lucky Lympstone
we older ones, remembering the goddess,
spoke in temple whispers
while the great tide fell back.

So then only goodnight, goodnight!
When shall we see such a tide again?
Shuffle and squelch home all,
and so to bed.

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