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first published in Poetry London

Chesil Beach

 

 

                     Love is water, our shared history, stone;  

                     each encounter alters us a little.

 

                                  *      

 

These limestone rocks

are records of the sea’s wide journeys.

Rollers have pummelled them with glassy tons,

             or played tame, froth kissing their skins;

have brought them the world’s particles,

             carried some away.

 

Stones get a taste of life like this;

and water daily meets its limitations.

 

Exchange,

              exchange;

                          both are changed by it.

 

                                  *

 

                      Each of us is water,

                      each is stone;

                      how difficult

                      to map those elements

                      in one another, truly.

 

                                  *

 

A few mayfly decades can’t comprehend

how long this shoreline has been trading

with the sea, in an alliance of opposites.

 

What constellation of improbabilities

has placed a trilobite or scrap of fern                

inside some of these stoic rocks

 

 

as water, rhetorical and moody,

has lavished inexhaustible experience

in wearing stones into these shapes, these?

 

                                  *       

 

                      Now

                     and again

                     let’s hold one another to the light

                     as if each were the one stone in the world,

                     as if there’s no end to illumination.

 

                                   *                                                       

 

Collectors, beady with desire,

raise their fossil hammers,

smash randomly

the smooth grey bellies of the stones

and, seeing mainly absence,

 

leave almost all,

inner worlds exposed

for the first time ever;

brown, grey, ochre chronicles

enlightening no one.

 

Who cares? Not stones.

As water sluices

round their splintered hearts,

with unimaginable slowness

they are becoming sand.

 

Carole Satyamurti

 

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