Trace around its outline with great care,

there is danger as well as beauty there.

Go slowly, cautiously;

try to picture postcard scenes

of secluded coves, a deserted beach,

the caves where smugglers hid

and waited for the tide to reach.

Pause again where once upon a time

you ate greasy fish and chips with Gran,

or cream fruit scones with Auntie Fran;

or walking that neglected path,

held hands with Ruth’s sister, Kath.

Crab fishing from the pier!

Or chasing pollock with a plastic reel;

a Fair, a Carousel, the Dodgems’ cheer,

the Candy-floss’s sickly smell,

screaming at the Waltzer’s spell;

a litany of buckets, spades,

vampires, Goths, Sunday parades,

yachts, hovercraft, Bank Holiday swathes

of tourists, row boats, crazy golf,

and over-flowing ice cream sundaes.

You touched the sea more than you knew.

Retracing steam to Dartmouth,

the winding roads to Lyme, St. Ives;

coach trips near and far,

Saltburn’s red funicular;

Blackpool’s lights, Brighton’s sights,

Bournemouth nights, and Whitby frights;

a multicoloured film of wooden huts,

of dunes and skimming stones,

sandcastles fighting incoming tides;

of grit in shoes when walking home,

of dodging dog shit, the ends of fags,

of wading in the freezing drink

which made your little willie shrink!

Trace your fingers round the coast with care;

where land meets sea, your history is there.

“Coast” will appear in my new 2018 collections, “Punctuations from History”

Copyright, Ian Gouge, 2017

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