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Beside the Sea, the Sea

Thessaloniki —
March sunshine and the slap of water on the wharf.
The sea is full of fish, in swift grey shoals,
right here, below me. And the same sea
is full of filth as well: oil slicks, sewage, cola cans.

Aegean, myth-bearer, what a state of shame we’ve brought you to,
slopping our mess, sporting our brand names!
Aegeus in his grief would not have thrown himself in here.

To make amends for this gross injury
we face a Heraklean task, yet one
within our common capability:
we clean up our act. Placate Poseidon. Hope to God
the shoals of swift grey fish hang in there till we do.
If not (it is no myth) — catastrophe.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington