Under the Lightship
The lightship rides at the top of the cliff,
just beyond the promenade.
No one remembers when it came,
nor can they read the white name
painted backwards on its hull.
The town lives below the ship,
submerged in the blue of early dusk
or the hour before sun-up,
rattle of laughter and breaking glass
rising in the narrow air
between the tall white guesthouses,
no vacancies, monochrome fuzz
of small TVs on kitchen tables.
Someone has cut a hole in the town,
a picture window onto a beach,
very early, pale gold streaks
on the water, and black rocks,
or maybe islands (the scale is tricky)
somewhere surely far to the north.
The people are sleeping, a long time ago,
but dawn is coming up like fire
under the lightship, a tide of brightness
regilding the world, and not to be borne,
but just for those seconds, beautiful.
HELEN TOOKEY lives in Liverpool. She has published two collections with Carcanet, Missel-Child (2014) and City of Departures (2019), and is working on a third.