Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Friday, 2 September 2016


In 2010, Brighton-based Guernsey exile Peter Kenny suggested that we collaborate to jointly publish a collection of our Guernsey poems. I had long been an admirer of Peter's work and I readily agreed.
The result was A Guernsey Double, which incorporated two slim volumes, The Boy Who Fell Upwards (Peter's contribution) and The Man Who Landed (mine) along with some snappy cover artwork from Betsy Alvarez. 

The book featured fifty poems on a Guernsey theme and was supported by the Guernsey Arts Commission.
This week I've been posting a selection of my poems taken from The Man Who Landed and have tried to make the choices as varied as possible.
Today's offering, Good Friday In St Peter Port, is a firm favourite of my wife, Jane, so this poem, as was the book itself, is dedicated to her. 
St Peter Port, "Town", as it's affectionately referred to by locals, is the island's capital and boasts several marinas, a splendid castle, an atmospheric Old Quarter, a fine selection of shops and restaurants and a multitude of private financial institutions.


Sun warms the rooftops of the old town,
flows between close-built houses like liquid honey
and in the tiny, unkempt gardens slipping down
the hillside, gathers interest like bankers' money.

Gulls stand like weather-vanes and face the bay
from chimney-pots and leaning chimney-stacks;
swallows scythe like scimitars from breaking day
till evening when, with rounded backs,
finance workers ascend the hill, evolving, as they do,
into the dour wife, weary father, wayward son.
From office desk to backyard barbeque,
the exodus of bankers has begun.

I pause on narrow steps to mark the view
of painted boats that dip beneath the Castle’s gun,
the sea, out to the islands, unremitting blue,
the distant, crooked rocks where foreign currents run
then, towards the airy summit of this prideful town,
set off, one man ascending, sun-bound, free,
through layers of stillness, soft as eiderdown,
content, this hallowed day, to simply be.

Higher and lighter, the heart, of hope, bereft:
so many yesterdays gone and few tomorrows left.

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