Lessons

By Martha Sprackland

You never were good at it, anyway.
Catalyst, chemical — words are little
help, a poor match, are insubstantial.

So skip the lessons for the beach,
the landscape all horizon but for
the uprights of sand-whipped post,
Gormley effigy, the trivet of the rig.

They could’ve explained it this way:
in these gritty fields, the bleached
shoulders of sheep scatter the ploughlines.
Even inland, these million shells are blown

in from the dunes in translucent pink
and mauve and striped taupe light enough
to let the wind fill and take them.

Or like this, with burnt gorse and pitchy
salt-stained hands. When the boys touch lighters
to the scrub you get the exchange of energy
birthing that red leap of flame. This is elementary.

But above you, a white sky – nothing. And out there
the chalky flash of the sea thundering over the beach,
pouring itself endlessly from beaker to beaker
held up to the pale light to look for changes.

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