By Lesley Morrison
Image: solenedesjardins, www.pixabay.com
The sea is calm and beautiful and soothing. It stretches out to the horizon, and beyond the horizon. The sun is setting and the sky is red and gold. Seabirds fly high in the evening light and the waves murmur as they reach up the beach.
Lying on the sand at the water’s edge are two people, a man and a woman. They’re lying alongside one another, very close, almost touching and they’re staring out to sea. There are gentle smiles on their faces and, in their quiet desultory conversation, they’re imagining what lies beyond the horizon and, if they were in a boat, where the tide and the wind might take them. Neither of them have travelled much and the world seems an exciting place waiting to be discovered. They’re both students and they’re beginning to plan a future together.
As they gaze out to sea, the colours in the sky darken and then fade, and the water becomes flatter and silkier. The slight breeze drops and the evening stillness envelops them. They feel safe and comfortable and at peace. It’s still warm so they slip out of their clothes and walk into the water. They walk until they have to swim and, as they slowly move their arms and legs, they feel that they and the sea are one and they have a sense of connection to all the people on whose shores this same water is lapping.
Image@ dimitrisvetikas, www.pixabay.com
The water moves through different seas and oceans and arrives on a faraway shore. This is a rocky shore and the sea here is not calm, it is ferocious and wild. The waves crash on the shore, the wind howls and the noise is almost deafening. The sky and the sea are both dark and ominous.
On this shore there are also two people, a man and a woman, and, here, the sand, not the sky, is red and gold. The man is lying on his back staring upwards, the woman is crouched over him and the red on the golden sand is blood, seeping from a deep wound in his head. The noise is partly from the storm and partly from the sound of guns and artillery. They are on the beach at Sebastopol on the southern coast of Ukraine and he has been fatally hit by a missile. They too had been planning their future together . Then the Russians invaded and he had got called to fight. She could have left but had chosen not to. Their life was to be together, and if he had to stay she would too.
Within hours of the Russians reaching their city, he had been hit in a street battle and had managed to crawl to where he knew she would be. He asked her to take him to the beach where they had spent so many precious times together and she had borrowed a car and driven him through the mayhem to get there. He had half walked, half crawled from the car and, as the sun set, he stared out at the wild sea and felt glad to be there with her.
Image, Eastgate Arts, https://eastgatearts.com/
LESLEY MORRISON is a retired GP who is an active member of Medact, an organisation of health professionals working for social and global justice and making the links between peace and the climate crisis. She is also co-editor of Tools of the Trade, a little book of poetry gifted, as a friend, to all Scottish medical graduates.