Bamburgh 1962

A low tide riffles the distance,
shifting a black shape which arrives
barking furiously. Now, sandy waves
hang over our rituals, picnics of custom.

Still we stand about, looking lost
as the cine's soundless whirr captures
the three of us. Watching such peepshows,
the present is diminished in the past.

The dog, incurious upon the screen,
munches a dune, stupidly hungry.
In the living-room, we are all angry
that the images refuse to remain.

How else to picture the impossible?
Clare flirts for a father, dead
behind the camera. His invisible
presence puts us quickly on parade,

David holds his red spade. He chops
at a mound of sand, suddenly in tears,
while Clare appears (and disappears)
ridiculous in petalled bathing-caps.

And the skinny figure who skips
into the final frame averts
my eyes as if the water smarts.
Film loads him with my father's hopes.

From Love Poems