Ray Sharp and Al Rudkin

Al Rudkin
The Cobb (or The Sea Wall)

Inspiration piece

The Cobb
By Ray Sharp


How many times I have come down to the sea
with an unquiet mind!

From Lyme Regis, the Pearl of Dorset, down the cobbled path
under the cliff to the Cobb, I walk

in fair weather and foul, in sun and slashing squall,
to breathe in the salt spray

and abide in the womb from whence we came,
sea water coursing our veins.

In name you are the gull, in form its wing, in coloration
the shining-white lunate sweep

of stone made of the bones and scales of ancient monsters,
long-necked plesiosaurs that hunted

these dark waters when the land was new and untrodden.
Atop your wing I am flying,

vertiginous between ocean swells and sheltered harbour,
leaden clouds and deep cold sea.

On the demarcation I lay me down hard to the rock
and open to the sky,

grounded on a porous egg-shell contradiction that holds
back the insistent sea

yet is itself of the sea, born long ago of muck
at ocean’s depth, pressed

once to layered Portland limestone and a second time laid
block upon squared block.

And so it is for me, formed of calcareous bone,
awash in wave-tossed source

that is the world, sea wall that is the sea,
arch bended to node

like the bump on my clavicle that speaks its history,
like the tidal rush

that drones, be in this one place, touch it,
feel it touch you

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