This poem from Andrew Greig’s new collection, Later That Day, is about the familiar routine of walking your dog on a familiar beach on a darkening afternoon. There is comfort in familiarity yet also consolation in the knowledge that each different day presents a sum of different elements: a balance between what’s gone before and what’s still to come.
The Way to Warebeth Beach Andrew Greig It is the way grass bends over puddles and rutted track, yields to the wind then springs back, shaking out last seeds as the season ends. It is the way the track runs from graveyard to rough grazing where clover and faded sea pinks quiver, the sea charging forward yet getting no closer. It is the way the light grows more lurid, dark clouds over Hoy making blue lighter, pressing dark into early night, and the volume of waves and the volume of wind pour in through eyes and ears till all is high water at Warebeth. * Seaweed and salt frazzle the soft linings of the nose, neural pathways register the way a black-backed gull moves into the gale without beating its wings. A sleight of weight and tilt of feathers, it passes through the dilated sun, turns black, emerges lit red, pivots on one wing then much faster slides downwind back through the sun and out again to show what practice and a backing wind can do. * It is the way surges keep rolling in, mount the shallows, unzip along the seam spilling white foam feathers. None of this has ever exactly repeated itself, not once, for otherwise the world would be static and a trap instead of being beyond control and comprehension and suitable for living in, given you too are beyond comprehension and control – the silhouette of a notion passes through the sun, to the effect being alive is not the riddle but its answer as though the Divine were Hendrix in bandana and loons smashing his Stratocaster into the galactic columns listening intently to the howl * The sun has gone and light is going fast. The wind is cold and it is time to go home. The dog drags her muzzle from sheep shit in grass. The path looked at this way is the same path but different, not the path of going but the path of returning. Spent grass springs up, bows again along the verges. You would think after all these years the wind would have arrived at its destination and settled down like an old dog in its basket. You open the car door, Sadie struggles into the back seat. Up front, you believe you are driving even as you witness yourself driving away from the beach and the track to the sea. You believe you are going home, as though you were not already home, as if here were somewhere else and now is a time where we do things differently. In the mirror the path fades into the dark, and the metalled road is near-dark but you won’t switch on the lights just yet, for your eyes have adjusted and this dimness is just right and the way to the sea and the way home remain two and the same, the only way open to you, not so hard to follow through gathering dark. From Later that Day, 2020