The Causeway

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The Giants Causeway Station, Runkerry Road, Bushmills, UK

This poem is dedicated to my mother – her grandfather came from near the Giant’s Causeway. We planned to visit so she could retrace their footsteps but we had to cancel our trip because of the pandemic.

Can it be a shore when the rocks are striding out from the line
Claiming the water, the waves and the sky?
People clamber for photos, send laughs like flares into the blue
But I hold my balance, steady, and think of you.

The boy wandering these stones before I came
The woman tracing family through the cracks.
The guide tells of a giant’s mother, watching to the side
Her secrets, our secrets whispered on the tide.

It’s a place of bustle and tourists and traps
History, heritage, myths woven through the gaps.

But here, poised between land and sea, present and past,
Rough stones graze my fingers, telling the truth
We dissolve to sand and disappear in the light
The old, the young, the ghosts, the missed, fade from sight.

A wonder of the world but the real wonder is us
We teeter between the sea and shore
Dive into the certainty of our frailty until we can’t drown any more.

I watch people step back, return to shops and games
To buses and cars, to the safety of their lives
Running from the power and the fear of impermanency
Still I sit, damp, windblown curlews calling for clemency.

I can’t grasp where the rock ends and the sea begins
I can’t grab boyish you and join your run across the shale
I can’t walk this path with the woman who brought me here
But I can glimpse you both, sea dripping our past and future, like a seer.
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Maggie McShane is a writer, journalist and poet based in Scotland. She has had work published across the globe and is interested in the intersection between poetry and politics.


Near The Giants Causeway Station, Runkerry Road, Bushmills, UK

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4 thoughts on “The Causeway

  1. ‘A wonder of the world but the real wonder is us
    We teeter between the sea and shore
    Dive into the certainty of our frailty until we can’t drown any more.’ Great line, thank you beautiful portrayal of your relationship. Reminds me of my relationship with my mother as she ages.

    1. Thank you. Sometimes I worry my references are too personal so it’s lovely when it resonates with someone else. Sending you and your mother loving wishes for many more memories.

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