Beachcombing at Bermondsey


It’s not every day the river

offers up a bucket but here’s a pail,

pale blue. For an hour we fill it

with the river’s clutter, handles, pipes,

blue and white china, tumbled

glass, a cap badge.


Loaded, and we stink of mud, we turn to go

back along the beach but the beach has gone.


The tide’s sneaked up behind a bend

close by us, slip-slapping on the river-wall.


It snaps at your red boots,

and since you are a metre tall,

its hunger makes me also feel small, endangered,

startled as an animal, driven to scale

the weed-hung wall.


You swing yourself over the parapet

and pointing to the bucket in displeasure,

chatter like a marmoset. I have it, yes,

but to follow you and bring it too

I’ve jettisoned the best

part of your treasure.