No Man’s Land

James Greene

At the seaside dazed by the sun
And its tremendous symphony,
Strangers are friends. Families
Under the cliffs uncover navels,
Amorous bumps, far-fetched clefts;
And the kids squeal with terror,
Their ball kidnapped by a wave.

If only at the graveside we could
Ungrit our teeth, weeping buckets,
Our family might feel
Less estranged: drunk on grief
And memories of a great-aunt
And her long black bathing-costume;
Not this cocktail-party chat.

In previous centuries, in church,
Composers publicly sobbed:
Domine refugium! And Nelson,
On shore, could weep.
I’m scared of my relations.
I might as well be on a beach,

Asleep, an overpowered
Sand-shrouded corpse too stuck
To run for the sea, to be released
From a dream of immurement
And pyramids, crying earthy tears
At imagined burials. It’s my funeral.