Poetry - In the Sea near Arisaig

Published in the Pathfoot Project - Creative Encounters, 2016


In the Sea near Arisaig

In memory of Jon Schueler


Dear Jon, Did you get on your bicycles, you and Magda, when you were in the mood, and did you follow her down the coast to Arisaig, watching her calves tilt in the sunshine, did you feel dizzy, with the wheels spinning and the bitumen-bends melting in behind your eyes, and did you feel the breeze blow across the backs of your hands, teasing the tiny flakes of alizarin still clinging to your skin? Did you, when you were in the mood, drop your bike down on the machair above Lon Liath, and take off your socks and wriggle your toes in the finest of white sand, and did you go and sit on the rocks while the oystercatchers warned the world about you? Did you undress, your bare skin shrinking away from the barnacled edges, and did you look at your woman, there, naked in the sunshine, the silver in her hair turned to gold, while a seal glinted in the Sound of Sleat, and were you surprised at how silently your Magda slipped into the water, water the colour of turquanite, and when she turned to smile you in beside her, did you, for a moment, freeze under the formlessness of that September sky? Did the water slice at your skinny shins, did you lose your balance, did that happen, and suddenly you were in, splashing like a bairn, gasping at the clasp of cold, did you reach out for Magda, did you soften as she found you, a brush of woman-kelp against your body, did you smile then, and lean in to kiss her mouth, glycerin-smooth with salt-water? Did you allow the sea to hold you in its soft tilt, and did you gaze up into the space of it all, not a single brushstroke of cloud to anchor you, did you dare to let go, to lift your face and be conceived by the sun, while the sea pulled the heat from your bones, and did you imagine you might already be dead Jon, dead, but somehow still breathing inside that boundless blue, did you open your arms wide in relief and surrender, did you, did you do all of that, in the sea near Arisaig?