Walking to Hilbre
Grandad, you wake forgetting
that we ever walked to Hilbre,
the sand ridges hard under our bare soles,
the advancing tide filling the valleys.
When we reached the sandstone island, we ate
tongue paste Hovis sandwiches, crusts trimmed
by Nanna, thermos coffee, her dark date loaf, but
all now forgotten by you. Your gold puzzle ring glints
in the morning sun. A sandfly annoys
the diamond panes of the leadlight window.
Oh, but now I am being forgetful: a plain
picture window now, the preference
of new wife, Olive. And I’m that fly
attacking the glass. My complex eye
sees everything and nothing.
I run through the waves
trying to reach you; the tide
of memory keeps us apart.
Appeared in the poetry (WORM) 29
Hilbre Island is a tidal island in the River Dee not far from Liverpool where I was born. It is accessible by foot from West Kirby on the Wirral peninsula when the tide is out.
The island holds a special place in my heart as being a place I visited often as a child, and also a place I think of when I want some peace and repose. Thus it has featured in a number of my poems.
Hilbre is actually made up of three islands, the biggest of the three inhabited and the other smaller islands not. My favorite might be the middle island which has no houses. All may be visited by people from the mainland who walk over the sands when the tide is out, as the speaker and his friend have done in my other poem on the island, "Christmas Eve on Hilbre Island."
Hilbre is a bird sanctuary and has been visited by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The big island has a webcam which can be seen at