Fog swags over the estuary make it hard to tell
if we’re looking at mud banks, islets or the far coast.
If you hadn’t told me, I would never have guessed
these flat-topped bunkers below us on our shore
had once been used for storing natural gas.
Old industries litter the littoral while behind us,
in the field beside the main road, there’s a mast
whose warning siren they still routinely test
in case of chemical leaks, aerial toxic events.
Such dangers in the air if we but knew it.
And so here in the aftermath of Christmas
we’re doing what we can to make sense
of all that’s changed and changing.
The edge has come off the temperature.
Walking back up the hill, beside fences,
dustbins, smoothed asphalt parking spaces,
you ask if these trees are silver birch.
“Yes,” I say. “They are.” And the past
makes friends with itself and for a moment
consents to our leaving it utterly silent.