At Ogmore-by-Sea This August Evening
I think of one who loved this estuary -
my father - who, self-taught, scraped upon
an obstinate violin. Now, in a room
darker than the darkening evening outside,
I choose a solemn record, listen to
a violinist inhabit a Bach partita.
This violinist and violin are unified
Such power! The music summons night. What more?
It's twenty minutes later into August
before the gaudy sun sinks to Australia
Now nearer than the promontory paw
and wincing electric of Porthcawl
Look! the death-boat, black as anthracite,
at its spotlit prow a pale familiar.
Father? Here I am, Father. I see you
jubilantly lit, an ordered carnival.
The tide's in. From Nash Point no foghorns howl.
I'm at your favourite place where once you held
a bending rod and taught me how to bait
the ragworm hooks. Here, Father, here, tonight
we'll catch a bass or two, or dabs, or cod.
Senseless conjuration! I wipe my smile away
for now, lit at the prow, not my father
but his skeleton stands. The spotlight fails,
the occult boat's a smudge while three far lighthouses
converse in dotty exclamation marks.
The ciaccona's over, the record played,
there's nothing but the tumult of the sea.
By Danny Abse,
From New and Collected Poems , (Hutchinson 2003)