Survivors: Poem

I’ve been working on this poem since Nigel came home with the beautiful sunset photos he took at St Clair in Dunedin. The St Clair’s piles date back to 1921 and are remnants of a double-row of posts that with the addition of planks formed a groyne to retain sand. Apparently southerly seas took sand away and easterly seas replenished it. Debate about the utility of groynes at St Clair has raged over much of the century and continues to this day! Nowadays the few remaining piles are old, weathered and rapidly disappearing – its questionable if any of them will be around in a couple of years for their 100-year anniversary. To learn about their history I read this ODT article

St Clair Beach, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

Tidal canvas for beautiful reflections at St Clair, Dunedin, New Zealand. Old groyne piles that date back to 1921, survivors. *Click on photo to enlarge* By Nigel, 31 Jan 2019


— by Liz Cowburn

[piles’ perspective]

Sentinals of the sand,
we stand

Driven deep to defend
this beach

Regimental relics – we resist,

Fight for footing! Look to the land,
the sand!


[my perspective]

Battered, beaten by tidal terrors ‘the breakers’
— bowed but not cowed

Centred in a century’s swirling currents,
St Clair’s piles sink, subside…



stclair_piers_02Taken by Nigel

You might also enjoy another poem I wrote this summer to celebrate the return of delicious, ripe Central Otago cherries:   Pop Goes The Cherry

Poem by Liz, photo by Nigel; Exploring Colour (2019)

21 thoughts on “Survivors: Poem

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  1. Liz, I am so impressed. I was just preparing a post for tomorrow based on Nigel’s pictures and saw your poem. It is very moving. I love the phrase regimental relics, there is a stance of an ancient soldier in their appearance, once fighting strong, now clinging on to hold their place. Bravo!!! I’m trying to stay away to make it to midnight and avoid jet lag! Got home this morning at 11am after the flight from San Francisco, but it was so worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’ve had a wonderful time. The light in your photo-post is so beautiful. I remember enjoying the quality of that light when we stopped over a couple of times in LA. Those tall, tall palms! Thanks as always for your thoughts on my poem and now I’m so excited knowing that you’ll be posting something tomorrow! We’ll both look forward to your post very much!!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes it is very satisfying when it works out! I never used to write poetry because I didn’t even know how to begin. Now I’m just starting to learn how to bring a poem together. It can be insanely frustrating and time-consuming!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ali! I’ve been keen to do something beautiful with Nigel’s wonderful photos and now I feel satisfied that I’ve done them justice!


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