Tide Pools

(for my daughters)

Although you are far older than me now
you cannot know how clearly I recall
your calling us to tide pools by the shore.

And then we ‘d crouch about sea-leavings where
they lay ebb-trapped behind a line of low
weed-bearded reefs. We shared
reflections there
in still, small, circled worlds
ten thousand tides ago.

And now, in turn, I call you down to these
dim glimpses of a world you have not known
but would have loved. There beads
from sprinklers cleaved
bright flight-paths through the light.
Roads humped on bridges thrown

in bluestone over gullies. Rumours leaned
on gate-rails. There you would have walked with time
and dogs down lattice-screened
verandahs greened
with stag-horns — and heard old
stories told as lamps ringed lines

on ceilings leaving corners dark — and seen
how drifting citrus petals flecked the wind
in mornings clear as green
tide pools that stream
back home through crannies. Now
I know these scenes I spin

into my yarns are evening-grey and fade
beside your light-shot lives. Though they began
in colour in those heat-hazed
harvest-times their shades
are sepiaed with years
and blur like shapes that stand

apart in dark round smoke-smudged lamps. They seem
such poor returns for warmth that ringed the sides
of rock-pools left like foot-prints by the tide.

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