I was here once
Sitting by the crumbling wharf,
The whistling wind rocking the Mary Rose
The piazza in the square.
The men walked sideways
Past the upturned carts, the cows with their pricked ears
Back to their mud huts
Which shrank as they entered it.
Along the dilapidated promenade
Young lovers would stroll, keeping a distance
As their elders watched, taking in the minarets
The domed cathedral with its gold spire.
The evening tide rolled in, as they sat by the shore
Not too close, throwing pebbles in the frothy water
The elders approved; darkness crept in slowly
By a side entrance; it was time to return.
They feared the night, disliked its stillness,
Its eerie, sinister menace, its hint of danger,
A stream of humanity scurrying home
The warmth of the fire, the delicacies on the stove.
By morning it’s all gone; the edifices and the people
The ancient symbols seemingly wiped away;
The promenade remained, now glitzy, and modern
The shops colourful emporiums, babels of high chic.
The past was extinguished; even its remains were gone
No vestiges or empirical evidence,
The wharf; the vessel: all gone
The link with history severed.
Now there was glamour, elegant beautiful people
Flashing their wealth, a heady cocktail
Of fun and laughter; women with perfect looks
Permanently tanned and coiffured, men with fat wallets.
Their quest was fun, all year round and round the clock.
Large sums changed hands, food and drink flowed
In abundance; some substances always available
Everything was attainable, mobile at your beck and call.
In the twilight of the sun
In the autumn years of our planet
The present and the modern was all that mattered;
The past erased with bold, deliberate strokes.
Tomorrow became an alien concept
Today and tonight stretched beyond the finite,
But the thrill of the now; its lure was illusory.
Its temporal excitement ending at dawn the next day.
In a different realm, in another world, I sit,
Still clinging to the past, its ancestral link
To our history; to where it all began
The morning before, on the seafront.