Pim Claridge

Life in the Scottish Borders, one stanza at a time

The Seas of Andaman

on the table beside me lie two small pieces of battered coral...and a small shell, smoothed to satin translucence, fragments that perhaps were thrown up in the churning swirl of seas on the day that shook the world.

In the gentle seas of Andaman, lies the island of Phuket....tranquil, edged white with soft sands of coral...and girded with tall trees of casuarina and palm...dawns spread candyfloss across the grey of vanishing night… the beach...smoothed by the tide, was cool below my feet, and the early morning ripples whispered happily over footprints and sandcrab holes....leaving..nothing.

rows of cushioned chairs...wait..small bars, cafes, and stalls edge the sands, dresses, skirts and shirts swing in the light wind, everything is new, well tended...immaculate. proudly so..

as I walk along the beach just after dawn, I meet the dogs... nothing special, just happy, free, friendly, independant, I liked that. they asked for nothing, but were always happy to wag, and sit beside me for a chat...

as I walk the length of sands, I notice gaps between cafes and bars...and gradually I understand...the old..is being replaced with new...

towards the end of the beach, a freshwater river sharply cuts its way through the sand, which seems a darker gold here...the cafes have dwindled away, the dogs have curled up again. the sun is warmer on my back, a sea eagle passes over….beautiful…majestic...silent

and then I see it, the pile, left untouched. no monument could speak louder. whole trees mixed with remnants of another life...a life washed away in a few short hours...the air seemed to cool around me...I didn't want to look... the horror tightened about me, and for a long time I sat upon the sand, seeing the wall of water...and understood why trees have no lower branches…
feeling bereft, I turned away, towards today, and the future so many had lost when this heap of death was formed...

sunsets here bring a molten, golden edge to life... streaks of mango and pink lie accross the evening as candles are lit around the little restaurants and cafes edging the beach... and the sea laps and sucks its way along the cooling sands....

every evening we would watch as lanterns were sold, lit and lifted into the velvet and starred night...they floated silently, high against the bordering hills until the lights were but a pin point, and then...nothing.

this was the night I would send my lantern into that infinate blackness...my thoughts would for a little while, be a star among other stars.

the soft roar of flames was warm on my skin, in the circle of light I stood isolated, for a few moments nothing else existed.. slowly the lantern lifted to join the necklace of lights that carried memories, messages… and blessings.

I watched it drift as it crossed the blackness. I watched the light grow smaller in the distance...and I watched it die...leaving a blacker sky...

as I write, looking out to the snowbound Border Hills, beside me on the table, lie two battered pieces of coral, and a shell, smoothed to white translucence...