The Tender Embarkation by Simon Cockle

Cast out on the sea like a
fluttering knuckleball,
we compose ourselves
and make for the shore

to call on Monaco.
Coarse waves coax and propel
our brittle tender
through a sea of shells.

We leave our cruise ship behind,
her style and bulk too prole
to make the scene here:
we’ll get there on our own.

I hold your tiny hand hard
with one eye on the waves.
How low on the draft!
But the eyeline deceives;

we are never under threat
they say, from what lies ahead.
The tender sea gives way
to a wealth of post-Med

glass and steel offices,
jewellers and hotels,
roads of all Formulas,
lawyers, those awing malls.

It sprawls across cliffs as if
a giant concrete flag
had unfurled itself, saying:
‘This is not yours.’ What a drag –

a town built on casinos
and broken banks; both
figuratively, literally
Graceless.  We do not know

this as we approached the harbour.
I’m holding you tight should
the land’s jolt put us back
on the rope-laced wood

of the deck.  Later that day
we ride round the streets
on a blood-red bus as a voice
lists the glittering feats

of The House of Grimaldi;
Albert 2 peeks smugly
from behind skyscrapers.
Your face, taunted by the breeze,

is a picture.  I’m tired of this place,
the gold between the teeth
and the suits in the streets;
it’s a pleasure to leave

the spires of finance behind.
We laugh as we comically race
on the rollercoaster back to
our hotel in the waves’ embrace.

Simon Cockle is a poet and writer from Hertfordshire. He writes as part of Poetry ID, a Stanza of the Poetry Society. His poems have been published in iOTA, Prole, The Lampeter Review, An Algebra of Owls and the London Progressive Journal, amongst others. He was invited to read at last year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival as part of the Poetica Botanica event. He teaches English in a local comprehensive school, and has a wife and daughter who nod reassuringly when he reads them his poems. More of his poems can be found at .

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