The remembering cliffs
The cliffs are full of faces, great granite heads
petrified just as they lifted from sleep.
Stone heads of Martello towers, blank looks
from the concrete helmets of German gun emplacements
now so assimilated with the granite and the gorse
that they have lost their particular history.
These cliffs are full of faces, a cliff path
inevitably winds back into past summers
bringing to mind voices in the wind, my family
talking as they walked the remembering cliffs.
It is a haunted coastline and every time a corner's turned
I meet my recollection of those who trod here.
I meet myself as a child who thought God had been born
floating face down in these waters,
His face big as a cliff's face, His body a small island.
It was an untaught myth; my secret belief
and life must have teemed about Him like the wrasse
and the gulls and the mackerel crowding close to these cliffs.
The cliffs are full of faces that stare out to find Him
and I stare too—through the slits and cracks
of my fortified disbelief, of my adulthood,
into His comforting presence—into the sea.
Now the sea seems part of a once-swollen certainty
that has yearly drawn away like a lowering tide.
(First published in A Guernsey Double, 2010)
Peter Kenny's pamphlet The Nightwork is from Telltale Press (2014). His poems about Guernsey were collected in A Guernsey Double (2010) with Richard Fleming. UK magazine appearances include Acumen, The Frogmore Papers, Ink Sweat &Tears, Poetry London and Other Poetry. He also writes libretti, fiction and comedy plays. He blogs at peterkenny.co.uk
Photograph by Steve Johnson used under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).