I was in the chandler’s the first time it happened.
I’d gone in to buy a cleat, so while the staff were busy
I cruised round the aisles. The lad with the ginger hair,
the one who knows the tide tables and the weather forecast,
was helping a father and daughter choose a life-preserver.
The ones they’d already tried lay scattered round their feet,
discarded, like those abandoned across Greek beaches.
And as the child bounced between the shelves,
the orange jacket tied snugly around her small body,
I saw her bobbing away from the boat, her mother
calling her name, weeping into the salt water.
Now it happens all the time: in the street,
in the supermarket, in the school playground.
I see children, even the lucky ones in life-jackets,
drifting just out of reach, swallowed up by the sea,
bone-chilled, to be washed up on some distant shore.
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