Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Watercolour by Tony Taylor http://www.paintingbreaksguernsey.com

Thursday, 25 August 2016

MERMAIDS

During the recent heatwave, we've been sea-bathing, Jane and I, and although we each have a different definition of what that entails, it's been fun.
While Jane has been teaching herself to swim and totally immersing herself, I, on the other hand, have been venturing little further than knee-deep into the water.
My earliest experiences of sea-bathing were on Northern Ireland's Atlantic coast, where the water temperatures were, and doubtless still are, little short of Arctic and my earliest memories are of wading out, shivering, into the icy breakers before shakily returning to shore, my woolen bathing trunks waterlogged and saggy, to tremble uncontrollably despite quantities of hot tea and gritty sandwiches.
 

You can imagine then, how much I admire Claire Thorburn, an acquaintance of Jane's, who is about to attempt to swim the positively frightening sea channel between the Farne Islands and Northumberland.  
Claire's fundraising for The Alzheimer's Society and also The British Divers Marine Life Rescue charities. You'll find details here: http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/claire-combats-a-sea-of-phobias-for-charity-1-8063729
 And now to the poem.
As a child I loved to receive seaside postcards and, back then, before affordable air travel whisked us away to the Costas, holiday greetings tended to be sent from popular Northern Irish coastal resorts like Portrush, located on a peninsula extending into the chilly Atlantic Ocean.
This poem was inspired by the reminiscences of my elderly Aunt Marion, who, as a young girl, spent an idyllic holiday there with her best friend.
I've used a simple abcabc rhyme scheme and octosyllabic lines in an attempt to recreate the animation that I recall hearing in my Aunt's voice as she told me about those far-off, joyous days.  























FREEZE FRAME

We leapt like mermaids, screamed and froze,
while breakers splashed our thighs with spray.
As the Box Brownie camera snapped,
we vainly tried to hold a pose.
Behind us, the Atlantic lay,
endless, eternal, arctic-capped.

And afterwards, we wrapped ourselves
in rugs to shelter from the wind.
We hugged each other, laughing, there
beneath black, jagged coastal shelves
where sea-pinks grew. Thus, we were twinned
in friendship: an aquatic pair.

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