Umtentwini Beach

The following poem records a state of deep despair and confusion I experienced in the wake of my marriage collapsing in 1994.  I had travelled alone from Cape Town to Durban in a desperate effort to keep my emotions in check, for I was ready to commit murder. My wife had eloped with another man and my entire world had suddenly collapsed. I had felt cheated, targeted and betrayed. Never before had I experienced this level of defeat. To deal with it, moment by moment, I turned to nature, calligraphy,  art and writing as a means of self- distraction. I drew comfort from the fact that, at least, these few simple pleasures remained faithful to me during the worst time of my life.

I penned this poem (blank verse) on the evening of January 12, 1994, after returning from a day on the beach at Umtentwini, on the South Coast of Natal, while the imagery was still vivid in my mind.

Umtentwini Beach

My first day in the sun
for years it seems
dressed only in black trunks
sitting quite alone
at home
on a driftwood log
gazing out to sea
beyond jagged outcrops
at the murky windswept breakers
that churn the South Coast shores
I’m protected up above of course –
my floppy hat and tinted shades
provide a measure of bravado –
allowing the rest of me to remain exposed
to a calmly baking sun
which somehow lacks the same intensity
as Cape Town’s microwave
Actually, most of the “rest  of me”
is also covered
by a thin film of UV5
to keep the skin and me alive
for what?
only time will tell
for life is as wildly unpredictable
as the ocean now before me
but it has its small compensations
like the warm, reassuring feel
of sun-baked rock
beneath my elbow
A friendly, healing warmth
that seeps into the soul
And when I turn to face that mighty orb
of brilliance overhead
I close my eyes and watch
fascinated
as a kaleidoscope of bright leafy images
play across my eyelids
in Cinerama style
causing me to gasp in awe
until at last the rays begin to bite
more passionately
and I, having turned full circle twice
slowly, like some elaborate,
self-propelled spit-roast
must consider myself done;
So reality returns
and like everything in life
you can take only so much
and no more
I retrieve my shirt
and leave with sunny thoughts
a kiss upon my cheeks

Driftwood on the beach at Umtentwini

Umtentwini Beach, South Coast, Natal, South Africa

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4 thoughts on “Umtentwini Beach

  1. Bruce … you write quite the most beautiful poetry. Full of imagery but also leaves the reader with a real sense of your mood and feelings. Thank you for sharing this x

    • Thank you Liz, your feedback is very heartening! You know, that poem has lain in my “dairy” all these years and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to “publish”it. I was not at all sure how others would receive it. When I went to dig it out, I discovered several more of my dormant “works”. I’ll be posting them here soon. xx

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