There’s a charge to swimming in the Atlantic that you don’t get at the local leisure centre. Perhaps it’s the abrasive quality of salt, or the electric feel of the cold. Getting in is the hard part. The passive among us may let the waves do the work: a progressive submergence. The bold will run and dive, but this is rash. Showboating may be followed by an abrupt exit. Waist deep is significant progress. Then all that’s required is one duck into the water. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. You might as well start swimming to keep warm.
Once in, the waves move you and cold surrounds you, making feel connected to something larger than yourself. At Porthgwidden beach you see birds arc around the chapel, and Godrevy lighthouse bob on the horizon. Boats cut the water out beyond the buoys. It may even feel that the experience wouldn’t be as refreshing were the water a mediterranean 25ºC. Just be sure to have a warm coffee waiting when you get out.
There’s a poem in The Tide Clock titled ‘The Edge’. Here’s an earlier version of it that perhaps works in its own right, before the poem took a different turn. This version is more overtly about zazen: zen meditation practice.
Waves relinquish the carracks,
make fractals, circles, then stillness.
My shadow drifts on the water,
part of the headland, tailed with rock.
Children play on the fringe of all
they can and cannot imagine.
The green sea peels back and here I am
between the inbetween; grateful,
coping, very nearly thriving,
content to be this not-self after all.
I’m scenery in someone else’s childhood
on a spit of land between blue nothings.
A fishing boat threads the bay
golden with a brazen shining stitch
lit by the falling sun. My legs ache.
So much for zazen. I have an itch.
The Tide Clock version:
Read the rest of The Tide Clock here.
A PDF version of our poetry collection, The Tide Clock, is now available. Click here to read it. Feel free to share it with others.
What do we find when the tide goes out and the coastline is exposed to light again, as if for the first time?
In The Tide Clock, three poets relate their experiences of the sea and everyday living. These are poems about looking afresh at what life places before us.
The new poetry pamphlet I’ve been working on with Hugh Greasley and Joe Franklin has arrived in proof form. There are a couple of minor errors to be fixed: I didn’t leave enough room between the bleed and the page margin on the cover, for one thing. These should now be resolved and I’ve put the order in for the first printing.
The cover art is Paziols Morning by Hugh. Check out more of his art at hughgreasley.co.uk.
Get in touch if you’d like me to post you one!
I’m hoping to send our new poetry pamphlet to the printers this weekend. It’s the second collaboration between myself and poets Joe Franklin and Hugh Greasley. To whet your appetite, here’s a draft of the foreword:
Ted Hughes once said that if the reason we travelled to the coast during our holidays was to relax, we’d be better off avoiding the traffic and crowded beaches to stay at home in the garden. He was hinting at another reason for our habit of staring out over an ocean, and that is to connect with a reality much larger than the habitual selves we usually are. Returning to the sea frames our lives. It presents a new surface each time we visit.
Viewing the expanse of the ocean brings the mind back to the immensity of reality, and broadens our perspective. No wonder it has been a central character in the work of poets from Homer to Walcott. And yet in nearly 3,000 years there are still new things to say about the sea. The way people relate to it and earn their livelihoods from it continues to change. Yet the sea can hold our lives because it’s both a uniform vastness and a unique weathering of the coastline. The stretch of coast between St. Ives and Zennor that Hugh and I walked last summer is famed for resembling a splayed hand grasping the edge of the water.
Many things have happened in our lives since our first shared collection, The Inner Sea: much of which can be glimpsed in these poems. It seems fitting, then, that The Tide Clock and Other Poems is centred around coastal transformations. One of the oldest truths is that everything changes but change. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the fringe between land and sea: the intertidal zone where, even when it seems the waters are calm, they ebb or flood imperceptibly under the hidden influence of the moon.
So, The Tide Clock… is an exploration of boundaries and connections. With this in mind, we collaborated on the title poem, each writing one of its three movements. The intention is that our theme will flow between the boundaries of our individual styles and perspectives to find its own expression in this particular pamphlet you now hold. We hope you enjoy it.
— Mark Cooper, Cornwall, 1st March 2015.
If you’d like a copy of The Tide Clock, email me at email@example.com. I’d welcome any reviewers, bloggers, or readers who’d like to take a look at it. In the meantime, have a read of our first poetry pamphlet, The Inner Sea.