Discovery Bay

The signs don’t work ‘cos the vandals took the handles

but the dune charioteers look after their own.

(It seems obscurity is merely an absence

of old fruit boxes and black paint.)

Along a graded road as straight as

the line on the forestry map,

we inspect the commercial pines at parade attention,

shoulders branch length apart.

Behind the parade ground is the local Flanders Field,

vast rolling hills dotted with the grave-stumps

of the Unknown Pine Trees

like a crew-cut magnified X 1000.

As the roller-coaster road begins to seem pointless

if not endless

we consider turning back but morbid curiosity drives us on

to the final crest

which lifts the descending gloom as if accompanied

by the opening chords of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’.

The hill top looks down in worship

on the virgin white altar of the tabernacle of the sea.

What first seems the surf-wash of a tidal wave

and then a snow-field surviving mid-summer

floats its nature slowly up the slopes, stating without arrogance, but,

in no uncertain terms,

‘These are the dunes of Discovery Bay

and they have more than your measure.’

The descent to the camp ground underlines the point.

Huddled in a three-tent enclave in a corner of the acre clearing,

their sand stallions muted and hobbled,

a group gathers in the late afternoon sun

to eat, drink and be unified and fortified

against the impending night.

A small hillock provides us with a measure of privacy and protection

from the insistent wind.

The tent pitched, a meal begun, a flagon opened.

A red-eyed knight in blue track-suit armour appears

to herald the despatching of two snakes in the vicinity.

His malevolence at our lack of vehicular sand-ripper is overcome

by the ethics of the Arthurian Card Table.

He exits, stage left, weaving,

as we blare the car radio

to scare away the mind snakes.


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