THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2007

  John Godfrey
NOCTURNE – ALDEBURGH BEACH
 

It's dark, now – and colder – and the sea's
sharp intakes and smooth exhalations
send sighs along the beach.
Yet they're still here, doctors
testing the ocean's slow breathing,
monitoring its heart through those rods,
their lines that dip and pull taut, dip
and pull taut with the water's heave and fall.
All afternoon they've ignored
a wind that builds height into the swell,
have listened to the gravelly cough
of the backwash, examined
sputum the shivering sea expectorates
at their feet. Now others join them, hang up
hurricane-lamps, bivouac in tents of light;
crouched on stools they'll stay
all night, keeping watch
with the dedication of anxious relatives.
And when the sound of wave
collapsing beneath wave has ceased
teasing my dreams, I'll see them
from our window in the grey before dawn,
quietly leaving the now-sleeping patient
who rallied with the tide's turn.


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