The Coastguard Cottages, Cuckmere Haven

by Mantz Yorke

 A saunter along the riverside path, for once free 
 from the carer’s leash. No organising her daily needs, 
 no cooking, no washing, no calls to bring a drink upstairs,
 no interrupted thought, no hurry – a day to delight in 
 colours: common blues flittering round ragwort heads;
 mauve sloes half-hidden in the hedge; blackberries’ 
 tight-clenched maroon; hawthorn berries’ arterial red; 
 heath browns on knapweed; lichen yellowing sapless trees. 
 And then a simple pleasure, eating sandwiches 
 in the August sun, looking at the heritage view – 
 the cottages slanting across the foreground; 
 beyond, the Seven Sisters’ baleen-like white.  
 A timeless scene, you’d imagine. Yet without defences,
 the cottages’ cliff would, in three years, yield a metre – 
 more if severe storms hit. Below, concrete is holding
 against the sea, but all around there are reminders 
 of the sea’s relentlessness – dilapidated groynes 
 angling into the stony beach; shingle scooped away 
 where waves have burrowed under a wooden palisade; 
 steel piling rusted to a vivid orange and pierced by sky. 

Photo by Mantz Yorke