Penny Boxall – Follies


Penny Boxall

We round the Brunel coast, in a train
crowded with bags and elbows. Tunnels gape
through mountains. Someone coughs. Now at sea:
the dank sand rises from the surf, the strain
of mergence evident in straggled tapes
of kelp. The plate-glass windows frame these

quick pictures: someone heaves a fishing line
above the red sea wall; another breaks
the lace of foam to hunt for early shells.
We swing from shore to estuary: here, pines
point fingertips on rounded grass that lakes
of mist promote as islands. On one hill

a flat-faced folly, crenellated, sits;
a battled cottage, military-spiked.
Near the train, imbibed in salt six-inch,
the ribcage of a ship rots darkly. Its
metal spent, the look is almost Viking —
just as that shed is a castle — at a pinch.

Rising to my stop, I catch a face
suspended in the window’s blur of breath.
I recognise the coat; it always takes
a moment more to recognise myself.