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  • Hugh Loxdale

Sea Shells

As the sea rocks up and down

On the empty shore,

Below the little sandy cliffs;

As my wife rocks to and fro

In her white, knotted hammock

On the veranda,

I stare into the ocean depths

Amongst the clear waters

To observe a small spiral shell,

Or a forked fragment of broken coral…

And contemplate the nature

Of time…

Realising that a century

Is a long span

In the affairs of men;

A half-century not much less.


True, my ancestors

Of the distant past

Would recognise these artefacts,

Fruits of the sea,

Just as they would

The island across

The narrow straight,

With its complex of hills and folds,

Valleys and depressions,

Shadows and tricks of the light…


So that there is uniformity, conservation,

Continuity…


Even though, of course,

The greater world beyond

Has changed radically, -

Almost beyond reason.


Then I realise that even this

View may be wrong.


That perhaps the shells have slightly changed;

The coral sticks are different;

The island is not the same.


Through my eyes, everything

Is transformed and that

I only assume these small uniformities to be so;

To have always had identity.


The Earth is a dynamic place; it evolves,

Nothing stays.

All ebbs and flows, rocks and goes, and moves on,

Sometimes quickly.


The strange and various dinosaurs

Had their day.

But what of the pelicans, the dolphins now,

Us, the shells and corals?


Caught up in the motion of the stars

That swirl…and laugh

Down the ages

Of eternity,

Without emotion…

A hysterical laugh…

Greatly enjoyed.

Only its theme is serious.




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