by Sue Proffitt

Only the gulls sleep here now

in the cavities of remaining walls,
obstinate stops
against the sea’s heave.

I walk the ridged contours of rock,
feet like blind fingers
tracing the foundations
of houses, hotel, post office

and they’re here again –
mute, tough as sea-boots
their nets slung over the wall
pots piled on the quay waiting for the tide-change.

It isn’t haunted.
No one died on the night the sea fell in
through windows, down chimneys
when the village drowned

but the cliffs remember.
Memory pockets its fissures
hangs on the air – fogged breath –
condenses on my skin.

Places of Poetry: Mapping the  Nation in Verse, eds. Paul Farley, Andrew McRae, Simon and Schuster, October 2020