The first thing we did was light the fire.

It took time - damp wood - and even once

the heart of the house was warm again the silence

in which we unpacked lingered like a choir


when its last note haunts a stone-deaf, stone-cold spire.

At night too, hearing the familiar cadence

of the sea-surge on our beach again announce

its rhythmic, endless, ebb-and-flow satire,


I thought how brutal happiness has proved

for all its gentle, mellow, intact flame,

not just because of the subtle kind of shame


of drawing such a lot, so far removed

from front-line horrors, but because it too proclaims


the ruthless way things change and stay the same.




First published in 'Acumen' 83.