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Joan Murray: Even the gulls of the cool Atlantic (poem)

 

Even the gulls of the cool Atlantic

Even the gulls of the cool Atlantic retip the silver foam,
The boats that warn me of the fog warn me of their motion
I have looked for my childhood among pebbles my home
Within the lean cupboards of motherhubbard and clipped Albion

A wind whose freshness blows over the Cape to me
Has made me laugh at the memory of a friend whose hair is blond
Still we laugh and run our hands over the sea
From the farthest tip of land to the end of the end.

I had so often run down to these shores to stare out
If I took an island for a lover and Atlantic for my sheet
There was no one to tell me that loving across distance would turn about
And make the here and now an elsewhere of defeat.

In my twenty first year to have the grubby hand of a slums
Be the small child at my knee knee the glistening chalk
That sails to meet the stationary boat the water sloping as it comes
And all the Devon coast of grey and abrupt rock

By gazing across water I have flicked many gulls from my eyes
Shuffled small shells and green crabs at my feet
The day is cool the sun bright the piper cries
Shrilly tampering the untouched sand with delicate conceit.

Up beyond the height and over the bank I have a friend
How are your winter days and summer actions
There could be little more than a tea cup hour to make us comprehend
A mature man’s simplicity or grave child’s sweet reaction.

Joan Murray
(1917-1942)
Even the gulls of the cool Atlantic
(poem)

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