Edge of England

Sweeps of brown sand stretch south towards the Wash 
and north past Donna Nook’s sea-fretted dunes.
Dogs loosed to race the breakers yelp and dash.
Kites fly with gulls on windy afternoons.
This place of drownings, strandings and lost ways
draws lovers, sun lovers and children, who
chase beach balls, laze, kiss, pass warm holidays
forgetting they have winter to live through.

In winter, solitary people come.
Their footprints perforate the sculpted sand
and leave thin trails two daily tides consume.
They turn their backs on paths through grassy land

to tread along an image of the arc
the grey-brown sea makes where it meets grey sky:
a geometry that cuts across the dark;
the planet’s rim that holds them home and dry.

The walkers time their walks by turns of tides.
Some things we do, we do for their own sake.
Waves ripple in and foam wets their boot sides
where sand and water practise give and take.

Robert Etty

If you have any comments on this poem, Robert Etty would be pleased to hear them.