Sunday, December 30, 2007


Metal wood, stone, concrete, both mole and pier. Great grey waves rolling through the gaps under tarred planks, fine spray chills face. Fingers in pocket grip cold facets of Whitby jet necklace bought for a granddaughter, just like my wife’s mother’s.

Sudden wide grey sea and charcoaling sky hold eyes where waves, clouds roll in and in. High to left, Captain Cook’s no longer to be seen staring into dusk, stone back to whole inland country where tourists navigate his incidents of youth. Across narrow harbour lines of shops and – in salvaged house – Captain Cook Museum. On heights above those the ancient church. Caedmon’s memorial plinth, abbey ruin, gained by zig zag breathless steps, wood bench planks for weary clamberers . . . this morning’s, six year olds of Asian school, girls in head scarves, long gowns, chattering in Yorkshire accents.

All ground rising from harbour basin smothers in darkness, and the tiles and stone houses that brought us here

heirloom watercolour’s
red roofs fading
into its own twilight mists

No ships leave now, like adventure yacht this morning crammed with youngsters, slipping between raised arms of bridge. Only single fishing boat hunches across rollers to haven.

Stroll shivering back where fish and chip odours linger in brisk eddies of breeze. Occasional visitors wander town centre searching, asking where to eat. Walk up road’s long slope again, road that will carry to Robin Hood’s Bay, to Scarborough, wondering whether next morning also

on car roof gull droppings . . .
passing schoolboys’ hope
of night’s first snow

Though our hope’s to see from iron fire escape outside B & B

tall abbey walls
moored in clear sky sun

by Bernard Gadd
Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand
first published in shadow-patches, 1998

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