Soft whispers on the shore

waters tumble in regret;

a return is promised

in each salt caress

but half-written in the sand

lies, broken,


Sea-gazing at breakwater's end

a shag, solitary,

stands lonesome sentinel

And the breaking waves



their own sad farewell.

~ ~ ~

A winter beach can be a lesson in impermanence. While the wave-sigh can be comforting in its zen-like meditation, the ocean quietly breathing, the never-ending-ness of it is a mirage. The bleached skeletons of fallen trees at the base of the cliffs hint at the destruction these gentle waves create when we're not watching. A tract of wall, displaced, has landed upright, but is no longer part of a hearth or home – someone's Seaview dream, shattered.

Even the signs warning the unwary to Keep Off the cliff face have been tossed and ripped, and now seem like to be eaten in revenge by the falling sands of the unstable land.

On a November day with the sun barely breaking through long enough to hold the building storm clouds at bay, there's a melancholy feel to the empty sands. It seems today all walkers are solitary

Metal-detecting appears to be the new fishing – the current excuse for men to get out from under the feet of their womenfolk and spend some time alone out of doors. They sweep their sensors two and fro, bent over to listen more closely for the beep of treasure, scrabbling in the shifting sands, coming away (mostly) empty handed. At least the fishermen, standing by their cast rods look skywards and seawards, and smile a greeting, shared recognition that the treasure isn't buried at all but right there for the taking in a pause and a heads-up look around.

Way out beyond the walkers and the runners, where no-one is fishing or digging, a young man wanders aimlessly at the water line. Directionless. At first I'm unnerved by his incongruity – he doesn't look like a beachcomber – despite the myriad varieties of us that there are. Then I find the message scrawled in the sand.

There's Ben in large friendly letters. Underneath it, a neatly drawn heart. Underneath that: NOT

I look back and wonder if the words are his. And if I'm watching a heart breaking.

Of course I could have it completely wrong – he may not be the type to write in the wet sand, and Ben and NOT may be completely besotted with each other...

...but weak autumn sunlight made the tiny wet pebbles glisten with mermaids tears...

I can't help feeling sometimes that beauty is only beautiful because of the sadness inherent within it, the knowledge that it is transient, impermanent.

Savour this moment, for it will not come again.

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