At Piel Island


The spiral stairs, just slabs of stone around a central column, wound
Towards the clouds exposed through holes, where walls for centuries had bound
The structure in. Now missing steps in twos and threes, where misplaced falls
Would lead to broken legs, or worse, we clambered up those crumbling walls
To battlements where seagulls perched, and crenulations let us spy
On boats now birthing far below. Up here the grey sea met the sky.
The ‘once’ became the ‘now’, became the ‘could have been’, and battles fought
Between old knights and pirate ships became confused with astronauts,
While in the sagging pub beneath, our parents soaked up beer and jokes,
And we, defying history, pushed loosened stones into the moat.
Well, we were kids. We didn’t care. There wasn’t ‘Health and Safety’ then.
For all the numerous ways to die in such a death trap, we had ken
Enough to keep on living. As the calm sea swallowed up the dusk
We saw our owners stagger from their den, and down the staircase rushed
To shout and stumble on the jetty, climb aboard and head for home.
Our parents quietly fat on beer, the castle etched in sunset’s chrome.


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