Yes, I know it means dead in Godfather-speak. But it’s what makes snorkelling different from swimming: that you can see you’re swimming with the fishes. So I’m going to call thing 25 that anyway.
Crete, early September. Still around 30 degrees; sea deliciously warm, sky a cloudless forget-me-not blue. We’re towards the end of a two-week stay and unfortunately, because of some health problems (which aren’t mine and must therefore remain private) quite a lot of it has been pretty bad—a debilitating medley of stress, heartbreak, fury, frustration, exhaustion, helplessness… It’s all gone on for years and most of the time I just get my phlegm on, so to speak, and “deal”, but lately I seem to be finding it harder to do so—or perhaps am less willing. Here I am in a lovely place, on holiday and in sore need of relaxation and refreshment. Instead I find myself howling tears of desperation in the middle of tourist-crowded street while people try to sell me lunch, leather goods and windchimes made of shells. More Mike Leigh than Francis Ford Coppola (and (more…)
‘Due to weather conditions, the evening boat is cancelled.’
Under the risen wind, the waves’ alternate push
and tug unfurls, rolls back, returns again,
while underfoot the shingle shifts and seethes,
a living ground which slides away from me
with a rasping rattle, like hard-won breath.
Graceless, I flail towards the frilled edge
where the foamed sea unrolls itself in greeting.
Sand swirls in the shallows, litter bobs,
and lank fingers of torn weed trail and clutch at me.
But beyond, the deeper reaches free me: I fall forward
into heaven-pale blue-green water which holds
and lifts me—where light is delighting in itself,
and the breeze-beaten surface is a shifting infinity
of tiny planes where sun is shattered into stars.
I blink brine-burned eyes and gasp, spitting salt.
A joy rises in me which joins now with far ago,
where a small child is tossed in sure square hands,
and squeals, and is caught again, and danger
is always safe. I laugh, and weep, and play
till I am spent. Leaving the water, I stoop to lift
a piece of sea-glass. Tumbled into opacity, it holds
the light. Carefully I fold my fingers over it,
its warm smoothness sweet against my salt-scoured skin.
First published in The Salopeot, 2017.
I’m usually a slow getter-inner, when lake or river swimming in Britain.
I enjoy the gradual acclimatisation process, and the way I eventually reach a point where postponing the gasp-inducing full plunge becomes worse than enduring it. On this beach, however, you have to let go of any vision of strolling casually or lingeringly across white-gold sand into lapping clear blue water as your footprints dissolve beautifully behind you. (more…)
I doubt Leonardo’s going to hustle for the lead in this one.
And it probably says something sadly unsurprising about the state of the film industry that I can’t even think of which female actor would have their agent on the blower to the producer. However, I’ve got to tell you: middle-aged woman on a beach felt absolutely bloody marvellous. (more…)