We step across the green onto the promenade
and watch a sloop transition past the harbor of Torquay.
It’s late afternoon. Beside me, a German woman
chatters about retirement. Her husband sleeps
in a hired deck chair, his yellow canvas hat
slanted across his face. Beside a long line of beach huts,
a mother rummages through her bag for coins
and sends her daughter to the ice cream stand.
I trace my finger over your skin, feeling
a raised line between the wrist and thumb €”
the lonely brief of your own fast-track, wheelwright
ridden past. Its faint glossiness has tattooed
you with your former self, a thin scar from
your racing days. We marvel at the lack
of waves and watch the sun wedge purple shadows
between rows of white Victorians
near the strand. Strange trees line the walk
as easterly winds chicane through their fronds.
They remind me of old people, the trees: minds rustling
over a sea of yesterdays, hands fluttering at foreigners
on the English Riviera €”each with a story
ridged along their quaint English palms.