Safe Harbour
by Abigail Ottley Wyatt

In chill November, stoutly, you and I,
bent-backed and booted, turned into the wind.

Sinking in the slow, red mud, we walked;
I tracked your giant steps;

heard in their clink and tumbling crush,
the singing of the stones;

saw rocks like teeth in the sea’s stark mouth
slow drawn by time’s far edge;

and cockle shells, bleached pale
as death, spill secrets in dark sands.

But then we found our progress barred:
across some river’s tiny roar,

you taught me how the faulted earth
might fall in stern and folded crags

and how it still might quake and split
to break the breaking, bounded shore

There tigers prowled, their bloodstone eyes
as abstract as their welted stripes,

and monsters moved among the stones,
stirred up the bones of the tasty dead.

And so we crossed the Alps to find
a land of snakes and stars;

a single tree, still rooted,
kept its vigil by the shore.

PHOTOGRAPH:Blue Anchor Bay,” West Somerset, United Kingdom, by Geof Sheppard.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a very unlikely “perfect vacation.” The year was 2012 when, around the middle of November, my current partner and I packed our then still separate bags for the first “week away” of our newly established relationship. We were, of course, an older couple and we had both been quite badly hurt in the still quite recent past. Beyond all question it was a big thing for both of us but we each put on a brave face and kept our misgivings to ourselves. Our destination was only a three hour drive away, a place called, most descriptively, I thought, Blue Anchor Bay. In fact, once there, we found our holiday was just perfect and that, despite the chilly weather, there was an abundance of sunshine. I drafted this poem lying on the carpet in front of our beautiful and cosy wood-burning stove and finished it over the course of the evening of the day it describes. As I wrote, David, my partner, examined the many photographs he had taken and sipped at a very decent whiskey. Not surprisingly, I suppose, even three years later, “Safe Harbour” remains his favourite among my poems.

Author photo by David Rowland. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Ottley Wyatt is a former teacher of English turned writer of poetry and short fiction. She lives with her singer/songwriter partner, David Rowland, and her Jack Russell, Percy, in the shadow of Carn Brea near Redruth in Cornwall. Over the past eight years her work has appeared in more than a hundred magazines, anthologies and journals. She is grateful to the editors of every single one of them and she hopes to be published in many more.