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Suffolk Eastside

I have walked this coast from Bawdsey to Lowestoft
Past bird sanctuaries
Power stations
Bleached tree trunks
Sand cliffs
Salt marshes
And shingle shores that drowned the feet.

I have watched friends cradle fishing boats into the river at Orford
Being unable to earn a living with their nets changed islands
Teaching boat building in the hot sun of Jamaica
Before coming home to convert old vessels back to sail.
I'd never seen anything like it
Out in the mud at Melton
They drilled holes without so much as a tape measure
Hitting the beam on the deck above every time.

What eyes.
She told me they met on a canal trip with her parents.
They thought they'd hired him for his skill on the water
Not to run away with their daughter.
Those were the days
I took my lunch at will
Driving up and down the coast in a brown Commer van
Handbrake on the steering column
Dropping off conduit to contractors and farms.

Between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness
I sunk into the stones
And had to get a tractor from the holiday park to pull me out.
Now Maggy's shells fish for an imaginary world
Inhabited by artists, sailors and good old boys and girls
Who still sing in secret pubs we only stumble on by accident

I have driven by this coast with its hostile sea
and ridden the waters
On ferries that would take us to the mainland
To tour in Transits and bicycles.

Bringing back artists from Eastern Europe
Who came to spread their wings in a land where drinking stops by the bell
And music has to licensed.

I have memories of this coast too painful to tell
Of friends claimed by the sea
And me
A landlubber held tight in that place
Where thistles
Push their way up above the tide-line.