Beach at North Berwick

I love your feet
a Gaelic Blessing

Beach at North Berwick


East Lothian, Scotland, August 2015

a happy-making place

such sights flood me through with joy
dogs digging in soft sand
Bass Rock
this safe, safe tidal pool
dogs run in and out of it, fetching balls
people wade in
or stand on the low wall, dangling small nets in the water

a seagull floats on the surface

I’m so pleased that the people here have this warm, gorgeous day

each dog knows to whom it belongs

“Don’t you want to throw it for me?”
the ball is deposited at the feet of a group who are walking
it’s covered in sand, stuck on with spit

now they’ve reached the end of the beach and the big black dog is back on the lead
as wet and sandy as the dog I wrote about in New Zealand, in 1996
it will smell heavenly in this family’s car too

another big black dog forgot where its family was sitting
a mum and little girl
and raced the wrong way
“Bailey, we’re here!”
and he stopped his dash
and rushed back

Now I’ll go in and see what’s to be seen…..

I go into the Scottish Seabird Centre and buy my ticket
a concession at 6 pounds 95
instead of 8 pounds 95
two quid towards lunch

I bite back the words I’m about to say to the man on the desk
“I’m so excited to be going in here!”

Into the Ladies first and the doors are painted bright green and bright blue, nautical colours
it’s a world of everything nice

I browse the exhibition, and when I come out
the tidal pool’s gone
swallowed up by the tide
but some of the same people who were there when I went in are still there
the sun’s still there
and I sit back in much the same place on the wall
and catch up with them again

the family with two spaniels, both great diggers and the one yappy

the mum and little girl with my second big black dog today
all of them will sleep so well tonight I know

I think I’ll be able to return to this place forevermore in my mind
happy busy figures doing things
only a few still, supine

backdrop the everchanging, advancing sea
I soak it up, commit it to words and memory
as gusty breezes blow sand into my tender ears