This time a friend brings tiny red hearts
whose beat our daughter dances through the house.
Shiny droplets cascade down the fig leaves,
pool on the table around the sea glass
we’ve collected over a decade of summers,
curl a trail along the bookcase edge.
They slip out through the door with our guests,
our happiness clinging to their heels.
Days later we shake a trickle from the duvet,
scoop up a handful from the warm hollow
of the sofa, disturb a couple
entwined in the bath.
Even now there’s still one winking
from between the bedroom floorboards,
another soaking up our conversations
in the crack on the kitchen table,
another planted in my gardening boot
embedded further with each step I take.
St Michael and all Angels descend from the bus,
heralded by the boom of carnival drum and bass,
to a sweep of sea and a golden curl of sand
where pink bikinis dance round tumbledown castles,
shaking down fried noodles and ice-cream, and
Polish teens call the score for volleyball
alongside swingboats where tattooed dads
look on as sticky toddlers rise and fall.
Girls in swimsuits and hijabs hunt for treasures
and a flock of nuns dares the incoming tide
while wrinkled hands unwrap blintzes and pittas,
watching as a twirl of sequins and boas creeps
towards the Turner, backs to Dreamland
where the wreck of the rollercoaster sleeps.
The rollercoaster ride of love
as hot as English mustard on my tongue
better than champagne, sunshine, pay day,
setting my sexophone agogo.
Friday pizzas, white wine, iridescent evenings,
an electricity as bubbilicious and energetic
as arrabiata, kalabash and skiffle,
a beautiful serendipity without circumference
until liquidation and frobscottle,
a tolerance of olives and tabards
leave me un-discombobulated.
Squishy apricots, fish & chips, tears and ice,
just friends. Bollocks. He thinks it’s all over.
What do you remember: the long walk, the shingle beach
where we sheltered,
throwing stones at a can and daring the incoming tide?
The seventh is always the biggest, you said,
so we counted,
eager to test received wisdom, to challenge belief.
Here in the hospital they’ve noted three, they say,
each growing in momentum,
eroding your independence, changing our familiar
landscape. We do not speak of it. But I think
we both hope the next one
will carry more than your sandals away.