by William Furley

The Monday paper said there were fifty thousand
on the beach that Sunday, mid-July, high season,
the sun like a mountaineer on top of the world

And the cars, thousands of them on the clifftop
fifty celsius under the windscreen, plastic
soft to the touch, road taking the print of feet,

The beach pock-marked with bodies, all colours,
towels glued to the sand, humans in all positions,
the shallows alive with legs like a shoal of eels.

And so, granted it was about a mile along the beach
to the ice-cream van's faint Greensleeves tinkle
through slow sole-scorching sand, and a mile back

holding the twin cones of chocolate and vanilla
which the sun was keen to swallow down before us,
it was a minor miracle I found you again at all,

on a towel of space among identical thousands
to meet your raised glance over the paperback,
those blue eyes piercing as a lighthouse beam:

"Who's that kind stranger bringing me an ice?"
you said, catching a drip, and looking out to sea
where light was pooled like newly minted coin.

©William Furley