Out of Season

Annemarie Austin

This is no country for young women –
the old on one another’s arms, ice in the air,
etcetera ...

Cheap-rate, off-peak, out-of-season,
they come in charabancs
– coaches too new a term –
and debouch on the sea front,
chorused by snapping, masticating wind,
savoured with sauce of rain.

The town half-wakes for them:
one putting-green, an ice-cream stall,
flurry of drab cafés; while all around
painters on ladder stalks garnish façades
for other, richer, younger clients,
coming later.

Monotony of the scene:
its measured pace and film of mackintoshes
– beige or grey (the sky the same);
no red tee-shirt, no yellow hair,
radio singing on a swung wrist-strap,
no oiled and sapid motorbike.

The sea bares icy teeth for them,
sun is too low and thin to warm,
air on the lips is bitter in its salt;
tastes styled for summer
wither on the winter tongue
till charabancs return.