This unassuming village, steeped in myth
and legend, tranquility belying
its bloody history of kings, martyrs,
soldiers and sailors. It presides over
the river’s yawning mouth, an artery
which once transported the nation’s life blood,
black coal, and now carries the hulking ships
that stitch together lives with shared histories
of more violent Viking times, sharing
language, genes, the settling of ancient scores,
and dependence on this iron grey sea.

Daily ferries from Scandinavia,
cut a swathe through the fishing boats which snatch
a living from the shrinking shoals of fish,
and the steely waters retaliate,
snatching the living, their storm-battered graves
huddle against the arctic winds which shake
the headland and skeletal priory ruins.
But when the sun warms the stones, and its light
dances like daytime fireflies on the sea,
this alter ego tells another tale
of fun and sand castles.

This is my talisman, my treasure trove,
guarding memories of significance,
my place of pilgrimage, consolation,
celebration. In my landlocked city
I sometimes ache to breathe its salty air,
to hear the ghostly foghorns, the seagulls’
accusatory heckling, and the sense
of aeons of time and people living
their small, unrecorded lives among the
monuments of the mighty, all lashed
by the same, cruel winds.