Submerged Forest at Hightown
You check the beach is deserted
strip to your underwear
and lie like a star on top of branches –
their sharp edges cutting
into the flesh of your thighs.
A slight movement softens the clay sand
to slip beneath your skin.
You are part of this, your body pressed
against thousands of years
You stroke saturated gutweed
and catch sight of tufted grasses,
knotted blades, a flint arrowhead.
In the Company of Strangers
While you’re not here
I run a gauntlet of barbed wire music
to reach the pub.
A wave of girls on six inch heels
sweeps me aside to order vodka-lemos,
and slump at the bar, gold sequins
flirting curves. There’s banter
from the men until they huddle
for a Premier League post-mortem.
Flashing disco lights
on the left side of his face and the way
he leans toward me makes me lean too –
he tells me about his new home in the Antrim Glens
how he loves the city but was glad to move,
clicks through photos on his phone:
Glenarif smudged in mist,
Glenarm frosted, perspiring snow.
He relives his accident,
the business he built up and flattened.
I had a lot to make up for, he says,
about leaving the seminary –
Only two boys out of sixty became priests.
We snatch at words from radio reports;
he knows the news behind the headlines.
As he turns the final pages of his story –
I watch lights grazing empty glasses
and catch a sidelong glimpse of you
standing where the Irish Sea
scallops the sand at Crosby beach,
where the sky’s a torn paper collage –
where the stones shush as the tide strolls in,
and where I wait for your opening lines.