Rupert was sixty-four when he drowned, fifty years ago.
I wondered what such an old man was doing
swimming in the sea, off Exmouth.
He had taken his teeth out; put them in a pocket –
his clothes, neatly folded, were found on the beach.
I remember his eyes – blue, like the sea –
they stared at me, unseeing.
Entangled in his limp embrace,
I throttled him to keep his head above water,
I was saviour and attacker.
Something yellow bubbled from his mouth.
Let the others haul us both into the dingy,
let the swimmers push us back to the blood-red cliffs.
From out of the crowd, wearing a bikini,
a woman with a child perched upon her hip
said she was a doctor – told me I could stop.
Police Station, a statement, then deep shadowed lanes;
the radio was playing a whiter shade of pale.
We stopped in a village, ate scampi in a basket –
sunset blushed the pub a psychedelic pink.
Later, I was sick.
I walk on this shore with my fellow ‘rescuer’,
my husband of forty-seven years;
he takes my arm gently then leans in for a kiss.
You have no idea how difficult it is
to give the kiss of life – to a mouth with no teeth
once you’ve sucked all that yellow foam out.
ELLIE REES gained a Phd in Creative Writing from Swansea University this year. In an earlier incarnation she was a teacher of bright young things from all over the world. Now she is teaching herself to be a poet. One of four finalists in Cinnamon’s recent Debut Poetry Collection competition.
Image via Pixabay