The genial squatters come,
a cavalcade of beige, pitching up
beside thickening woods.
Local girls walk their dogs,
hoping for a soft-haired Prince
and a week of flirting at the gates.
Ignition keys removed, these people
want the noises trees can offer:
each natural stir lost to them
in urban lives. They eat outdoors,
adjust to cold, walk for miles,
flora sticking to their muddy boots.
Then there’s night: the family
hunched inside, each van
a lit snail, stuck to dewy grass.
The first one came at school, urged on by a boy,
she ran into a competent spin, white triangle
at her groin his only point of focus. In youth,
her thighs remained toned, good enough
to be seen in parks, skirt hem teasing her chin,
air sharp at her hips. After marriage, she did it daily,
in the garden. Legs wide (not even spread that far
for the bearing of her boys) blood surging in her skull.
A neighbour mentioned it. His hushed confession
to a sighting amused her for days. Her husband continued
to thrill at limbs thrown skyward, her gymnast’s poise
on reaching the lawn’s edge. Their sons’ small heads peeking
above the sill, now their distant admiration from homes
of their own. Steady with retirement, they wash breakfast things
in peace, before he unties her apron, feels her loosen, lets her go.
Nothing for your pocket here:
these bricks with sea-smoothed
edges, blocks of terracotta butter
covering the sand. I push at lumps
of grey and black, my boot seeking
the crunch of razor clam. A derelict
factory, reduced to rubble-crumbs
now buffers these unsteady dunes,
heaves them back on unnatural
shoulders, obliterating pebble, shell.