Blyth Library Poetry Workshops

Tides


I

Eight hundred years ago till now, our town has grown.
First salt, then ships and coal and industries well known.
A river flowing out to sea, a pier on either side.
A sandy beach around the bay washed by incoming tide.

The beach is where I love to be in rain, wind, snow or sun,
golden sand, a prom, the dunes, something for everyone.
A play park for the children, the Battery museum to see.
Try a delicious ice cream, take fish and chips home for tea.

II

Drifting past the memories,
transitions in a dream.
Past the sleepy harbour,
past the soaking green.
Man-made giants stand in the distance
as if to wave goodbye.
No matter where I roam,
you’re still home. You’re still home.

III

The seat belt signs illuminate
as we start our last descent,
then banking down across the dark
North Sea, I start to feel content.

The flaps and engines move and roar,
and we touch down safe and sound.
Pick up luggage; through customs pass,
to the taxi stand I bound.

On country lanes, through towns and villages,
these pass along the way.
Speeding to the place I love,
for too long I have been away.

I see the sea, wind turbines grand;
the view fills me with joy,
then into the town that I’ve called
my home ever since I was a boy.

IV

Here, in this square set aside for cars, where shoppers
ply carts brimmed with provisions, or wait, laden, for taxis,

trains once brought thousands, third-class and hungry,
from every dispossessed, squire-haunted hamlet

to a century of new bearings: to slipways, deep mines,
a river of coal; to fevers, bitter winds, sudden falls of stone.

Here, in this same space, where once, as a curiosity,
a great whale was displayed in all its grey, washed-up glory.

V

Coal dust lingers in the air. We left on the ebbing tide
passing Bolckow Breakers Yard and Blyth Shipbuilders.
Cranes stand like forgotten dragons. Bate’s pithead
wheels are still and rusted. West, North and South staithes;
stark timbers reaching to the sky. Men with chainsaws
work like beavers, cutting them down for matchsticks.
Silent testimonies to lost industries. We sail between
the pierheads to meet the deep rolling sea. We hear
the low mournful wail of North Blyth’s foghorn,
as the town’s lights fade into deepening night.

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer