OIl; 20 x 20 cms

 

Beaches: A Hobby

Remembering Norman MacCaig.

Beaches are probably
My favourite hobby.
I collect (without possession)
Their signature look
And their future-proof
redolence-ready uniqueness.
I possess (without collecting)
The salt-spray, salt-caked
salt-memorised demarcation line
Between MacCaig’s ruffled foreland
And the distant frieze of mountains.

But they are disdainful.
They refuse to acknowledge
My presence. My footsteps
being ephemeral scars
On a countenance
Which converses only with equals,
Such as the sea.

I have never been one
To collect fireside objects
Or trophies. Neatly filed,
Leather-bound, catalogued.
Only for the timid, that. For navel gazers.
Or those who possess blindly
Without empathy.

There is something else
With beaches though.
A quality of sharp sand and round pebble;
Of tidal pools and scudding clouds,
Of rocks, bladderwrack, daydreams
And vast horizons in my expansive mind.

When I was a child
I dreamed happily
Of holding small stones
Which weighed
A hundredweight
(The converse also
was exciting).

Now a small ripple
At the edge of
The vast anxious ocean
Incites a pleasurable tension.

Beaches will probably
Remain my hobby.
A muffled quiet persistency
Transcends the advancing years
And exhorts me to love
The discordant oxymoron
Of sun-kissed memories,
And wind-lashed reality.

Brian Crawford Young

Norman MacCaig 1910-1996. “Who owns This Land?”
from The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Polygon, 2005)

http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/norman-maccaig