Claire Lynn: Sixteen Summers

Sixteen Summers

Yes, I’ll remember Tonfanau: its single line
of track and solitary platform, brambles
and cow parsley tangling the fence.
Through weighted gates, we’d shepherd

our small children across the rails
towards the beach.  The path skirts
a clutch of broken-down cottages
being re-built stone by stone,

advancing, from one summer to the next,
by only a gable end.  The grudging sheep
rise at the last moment to let us pass. 
The wind casts a rippling net of sunlight

where sanderlings skitter at the edge
of the sea.  At last I sit, cooling my feet
in a rock pool. A cormorant flies past –  
a black cross in the sky.  It’s too hot

not to be in the water but my children
are digging moats in the sand.  A wave
surges up the channel, divides
and encircles their castle.  

Sixteen summers here, and still
we strive to hold back the tide,
reinforcing sand with seaweed,
patting with plastic spades. 

I think of Fairbourne – two stops
up the line – the village awaiting
decommissioning as sea levels rise.
The estuary will swallow it. 

When the waves have covered
the sand, we retreat to the stones,
watch a flock of terns reclaim
the air in swirls, flexing the blades

of their wings as they dive
into shallows where the sea
has smoothed away our footprints. 
Today will be the hottest day

since records began.  Coldest summer
of the rest of our lives, says my daughter.
We head back inland, our pockets
heavy with looted shells.

About the Artist

Claire Lynn teaches Creative Writing around Northumberland. 

Her poems have been placed in various competitions including the Bridport Prize and published in numerous anthologies and magazines such as Butcher’s Dog.