I watched the landscape pass
from the back of a Volkswagen Passat
crammed between lads of size and silence
until we stopped on the shoreline.
I watched scrubs of grass anchored to sand dunes,
pebbles, shells and driftwood scattered
on the sand, seaweed snaking through thin streams
of seawater into the belching ocean waves.
The oldest man hauled fishing rods, bait boxes and slabs
of Carling. He had been here many times, weathered
by whiskey and building sites.
I watched as he crossed the reeds
and rocks and sandworms, heavy feet, grunting chest.
He didn't stop or turn or speak until a gap in the craggy rocks,
a flat stone surrounded by rushes, dried kelp, crushed razor shells,
the spume bubbling below, enough space for us, the rods, the cans.
We cast our rods, sat staring ahead, the snap of the ring-pulls
the only break in the beach sounds.
I watched the sea.
I watched the waves.
I watched the fishing line bobbing in the water,
the men's breaths aping the in
and out of the swell, knowing
no fish would be caught today.
I watched and soon knew why men do this.
I watched the tins of lager thin down, as the men began to talk
of curries made with mackerel,
children they only see at weekends,
the hope of returning home for good.
I watched their shells open, letting out their brine.