Love unfolded then, like crumpled petals
opening into sunlight,
unfurling at the stroke of spring
as we walked the seven miles of estuary,
reaching, after long mudflats, the beach,
the windless bay, the candle of the lighthouse,
waxen in the hazy air that hung like gauze
between us and the islands
and through an undertow of sea-mist
came the warmth of April sun
nuzzling at our dazzled, new-born skin
until, at dusk, the madder of the sky
shed splintered light on wrinkled waves
and sea breathed inland,
mingling damp salt air
with the scent of wild narcissi.
Fragments of this day remain: primroses,
pressed in a book, a sea-stained map,
and memories, clearer than photographs,
of glances, places, shades of light
and of your touch, when, swift as seabirds’ wings,
you flew into the inlet of my arms.
(Above the estuary, the pale moon shifts, and the tide, like a bale of cloth unfolded, is pulled towards the land, a swathe of rippled silk, spilling over sand, easing under the hulls of fishing boats and brushing the tips of bulrushes, edging inland as far as it can reach – until, gathered into narrowed, earthbound arms, seawater blurs into river, a rush of it flowing from Galloway hills, down into this saltmouth that it floods with freshwater, licking at the briny tongue until the dawn, when, drawn by the moon’s odd magnet, the tide slips back towards the shore).
After seven years of plenty
we’re walking back along this shore-road
where the primroses are flowering again
and our hearts, new-milked each morning,
are still brim-full of love.
Out on the acres of the estuary’s wet sand
the shelducks catch the springlight
on their wings, and south, past Silloth,
the hills make the pearl-grey outline
of another country.
Inland is a darkness of sorrel and wild garlic,
a deep green scattered by the stars
of wood anemones’ white flowers,
and in a hedgerow, frail as eggshell,
are nested five new violets.
Such things become the sediment of memory,
the layers we gather over years,
flecked with the bright silt of omen
like this heron, fish swinging from its mouth,
flying up towards pale April sun
that rubs the muddy shallows of the Solway
into folds of silver.