A new draft of a poem from the millennium year.
WORLD’S END AT GURNARD’S HEAD
Inside the house, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and that
choral counting backwards, chanting out this year
as just another dead leaf burden to be kissed
into the fire. And then it was (implausibly) 2000
and as they raised their glasses high we slipped
outside, took the muddy path to the field’s edge.
So quiet at first. The wild world’s calm indifference:
cattle hunched clumsy by the bulky walls;
an owl that hooted once; the whisper of the gorse,
thorn against thorn, stones rasping underfoot.
And then, sensed first as restless space, then heard
as a presence inside silence, the black Atlantic,
breathing deep, breathing deep across the parabola
and beyond. While Gurnard’s Head gazed inland,
uninvolved, one more optimistic tide clambered
over cobbles way below. Out in the long darkness
it pulled, pulled, lingering on rocks and sand:
‘Reverse the narrative’, it seethed. ‘Turn back time
return to source’. The message cackled
in the shingle, boomed along the shore. We waited
in the rattling night one full hour into the millennium.
But nothing shifted, tilted, slipped or fell away.
Wind and sea, implacable land, unyielding
dark. So we climbed back up the slope
to the silent house, slept briefly and woke to a
blustery dawn. And a voice inside the wind laughed
formless vowels; and a brief shape-changing
cloud-face grinned across the unaltered world.