by Alison Brackenbury
Sex is like Criccieth. You thought it would be
a tumble of houses into a pure sea
and so it must have been, in eighteen-ten.
The ranks of boarding houses marched up then.
They linger, plastic curtains at their doors,
or, still more oddly, blonde ungainly statues.
The traffic swills along the single street
and floods the ears, until our feet
turn down towards the only shop for chips,
to shuffling queues, until sun slips
behind the Castle, which must be, by luck,
one of the few a Welsh prince ever took.
Or in the café, smoked with fat, you wait.
Will dolphins strike the sea's skin? They do not.
And yet, a giant sun nobody has told
of long decline, beats the rough sea gold.
The Castle rears up with its tattered flag,
hand laces hand, away from valleys' slag.
And through the night, the long sea's dolphined breath
whispers into your warm ear, 'Criccieth'.
• From The Poetry of Sex, edited by Sophie Hannah (Viking, £14.99). To order a copy for £11.99 with free UK p&p go to guardianbookshop.co.uk or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.