Myra Schneider

Three Women on a Beach
after Peggy Somerville

Look, how the sea’s ultramarines have crept
into the stripes of deckchairs and how the shore’s
pale apricot has infiltrated an umbrella
that’s chatting to its neighbour as it shades
two of the three hatted heads.
I wish they’d turn –
I long to see the faces of the women
who inhabit the now dated clothes. They won’t.
The three seem intent on the blues and violets
scampering across water and sky.
a girl who has shed socks and shoes,
stands lovely in bare legs, adoring the sun.
The women have unfastened nothing.
It’s 1965 –
soon women’s lib will be alive and kicking;
computers are still clunky, fear of climate change
is in its infancy, smartphones and frequent
terrorist killings, are yet to come.
The three
have an air of calm but I wonder if abruptly
ended careers and other resentments fester
in their minds.
Maybe one of them is grieving
for a stillborn child, another finds comfort
in a secret affair although she hates the guilt
and the third takes refuge in dreams
but they exchange nothings without a whisper
of selves.
Perhaps though what all they feel
is gratitude for the lulling voice of the waves
pushing in and out, for the seagulls wheeling
high overhead piercing the sky with cries,
and the sun that seems to spell permanence.

Myra Schneider’s most recent collections are The Door to Colour (Enitharmon 2014) and Persephone in Finsbury Park (Second Light Publications 2016) Her other publications include books about personal writing. She tutors for The Poetry School in London and is consultant to the Second Light Network of Women Poets.