Hugh’s prompt is to capture a picture that captures the essence of solitude. This is what Hugh says:
What do you think about when the word solitude is mentioned? For some, it can mean getting some valuable time to spend alone doing the crossword, to read or write, or maybe going for a walk on your own and taking in the sights and sounds of life. For others, it can have the opposite effect.
I’m not someone who enjoys the solitary. Even my walks are better with Dog. But the endless wonder of the sea seems to draw me in, allowing my mind to enjoy the freedom to imagine what’s out and beyond. If that is what people gain from solitude then maybe I understand its positives.
These are sculptures from Anthony Gormley that reside on Crosby Beach, outside of Liverpool. Called Another Place they have caused local controversy. To me they capture the two strongly contrasting emotions: the solitude of the sea, a place to think and be; and the loneliness of the isolation.
When I saw them, I was captivated. They seemed to encapsulate a calmness reflective of the wide sands and placid seas. But soon such thoughts gave way to a creeping anxiety, the solitude of the trapped. I thought of the Morecombe Bay Cockle Pickers, the poor souls lost in similar sands when the tide turned and they were stuck, like these iron men. I wrote a poem, trying to understand what I was feeling.
Sharp shapes stand sentinel
Guards of the horizon
Canutes in iron
Broody? Or dreaming?
No feature reveals their mood.
Just an illusion of calm
As the tide approaches
and laps at their feet.
Inexorable, the flood covers
all, slowly, powerfully
A cry is heard
from Morecombe Bay
floating along the Mersey coast.
Another time, another group
trapped by the self same tides.
Hardly. Frozen by panic, concreted
into their glutinous prison.
The sea is not a muse
but a curse, death, a cruel deceiver.
Finally the surface is still.
Nothing disturbs the calm,
reflective, pacific sea,
lapping my shoes.
I still hear cries, now seagulls
and untamed children.
I turn for my car, carefully freeing my feet
with each step.