Eleanor, on the beach

We’ve completely encircled our friend Eleanor on the beach

with little towers of stones, and although some of the towers

only have five or six stones, and only one has reached


as high as our record of ten, I do not think their power

has anything to do with their height,

any more than we should measure the value of an hour


by how many hours it is balanced on top of. It might

better be thought of in terms of a certain sympathy

between our chosen stones so that the tower just looks right,


ust as the right hour poised on the right hour can make a symphony

of hours, and the right day on the right day on the right day

can add up to such happiness it is no mystery


at all that a perfect stranger in Wellington might smile and say

“bonjour!” at you, something which happened to me once.

It isn’t, in the end, how high a number of days


you can pile up but who you pile them round that counts

and happily in this case it is Eleanor, her pale skin

burning faintly where I would have rubbed in more than an ounce


of sunblock if she had not thought the huge pool of it in

my palm an alarming extravagance, which

she fixed by getting the tube to somehow suck a lot of it back in.