Poems from The Old Lookout by David Woolley and Ann Gray


sweeping through the Garden of England

I'm going back thirty years, remembering


my youngest neice loved this place, how

my father hated it, how Fleming so gloriously

described the drive down from London in

the days

before the motorway; Bond on his way to that

golfing duel with Goldfinger at Sandwich.

We're travelling for poetry again, a creaking

reading in The Old Lookout, guarded by

a Scotsman in a kilt we can't help looking


Staying on the Eastern Esplanade a tall


with refugees from California, Kenya, who


the answer to that riddle, 'you can't have

everything -

where would you put it?' Dickens would


loved it, as the Italian waiters love you for

having a son who looks after Balotelli. We walk,

talk, you laugh

at more tales of my father, his wind-break,

his games

of Frisbee, beach cricket, 'keep it oop' with

the football.

We burn in a brief burst of longed-for sun,

singalongaseventies round the old


collect balls of chalk with holes you can

peer through,

and as we head for home, the rain comes,

sweeps away those last traces of Sahara


                                                                                           David Woolley


They pray. Bow their heads as one.

I don't. I have left the dead, finding

you. I watch the wind distress the trees,

the rain, stuff my hands in my pockets

finding sand. Broadstairs, last weekend.

So hot, we slept with the doors thrown

wide to the lull and splash of the sea.

Broadstairs, where the white light

of morning stole across your back

where breakfast came on heavy trays;

yellow pansies, leaves of mint, golden

melon, pastries, dark tea in a brown

pot. Our bed had a rhythm of its own

you went with, the scooped bath was

a struggle and every inch was furniture

or treasure carried there in flight. Broadstairs

where we climbed the stairs to read together

for the first time. The Old Lookout.

Looking out at the sea coming in, so flat,

so different from the crash, the menace

of the sea at home. Broadstairs, chalk

pebbles shot with holes, bare feet, tales of

your father, windbreaks hammered in

the sand; sand you'll find, later, in both

pockets of your shorts. You'll sift it through

your fingers, as I do now, its grit, its silk,

a lasting prayer of its own.

                                                                                Ann Gray