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Degas, Beach Scene

A half-innocent child
Hard at work on the beach
Engineering with the extravagance
Of unfettered imagination
An eternal city of sand
Populated by the kind of people
Who are never picked first for the team
But grow up to architects and poets
Protected with battlements because
Its warlike neighbours
Refuse to speak the same language.
Inside, hospitals, schools, museums, art
Outside, of course, a moat
Which requires the construction of a channel
Where water will flow uphill
From the forgotten sea.
The sea! It shuffles closer
Ignoring the incompleted library
And already beginning to threaten
The ramparts of the southern tower.
Old enemies become irrelevant
In the increasingly desperate fight
Against inevitability.

And inevitably,
The war is lost.
The sea reclaims the sand
The sand rejoins the sea

And years of tears pass
More quickly than expected.
Until one day the less innocent man
Who has built with even more imagination
A different kind of city,
Remembers that the tide is still coming in
And determines this time not to waste
A moment fighting the hard-won truth
That requires a lifetime to begin to see:
Death is not the ocean
Life is not the sand
God is All, and all of All
Is all within his hand.

Written on my 40th birthday, 5th June 2015

Journeyman Poet

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