I first wrote this poem when I was 17. I was out of money in the Glasgow Airport overnight, waiting for my plane home. I tried to sleep, but the chairs weren’t particularly sympathetic to my fatigue. The situation was made worse by a pair of Scottish children awaiting an early morning flight for their family’s vacation to Spain: They were fascinated that I was from Canada, and they peppered me with questions in a thick brogue. I could understand the boy a little, but his sister’s words were impenetrable. The only thing I’m sure she said was, “Doon’t interroopt!” whenever her brother tried to translate her verbal barrage.
When they finally tottered off to their parents around two in the morning, I thought how wonderful it would be to live somewhere quiet. I thought of a deserted island, like Robinson Crusoe, but my months in the British Isles wouldn’t allow my imagination to linger too long on a tropical place. Then I thought of a barren wasteland, like one of the islands off the Scottish coast, surrounded forever by an angry, slate grey sea. I decided living alone there like a hermit was too depressing for a day dream, so I imagined there was a female castaway too. Then I wrote this poem.
I rewrote it later that year for an assignment in OAC Writer’s Craft, and my teacher was so pleased with it that he put a copy up in the teacher’s lounge. Later in university I worked it over again at greater length for the E. J. Poetry Competition, but it failed to place. I’ve changed the odd word here or there today, so I guess that makes this a poem ten years’ in the making. There are still a couple of sappy or otherwise clunky lines, but those are tough to excise when the subject matter is a love affair at the ends of the Earth. I’ve always been fond of it, and I don’t imagine I’ll ever have a better forum that this one in which to make it public to a broader audience, so here it goes:
The Land of the Slate Grey Sea
By Geoffrey Micks
How wonderful it would be
To live in the land of the Slate Grey Sea
To lie in the sand –truly free-
While we freeze our bippies off.
For in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
We can live in harmony,
Except for the chilling agony
Of the cold wind off the water.
And in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
Beneath the shelter of a tree,
We’ll make a home
Far from the foam
Kicked up by the raging ocean.
If, in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea,
You could find your way to be
A friend of mine,
And I of thine,
Then that would be just perfect.
Because in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea,
We’d fall in love eventually,
You’d hold my hand,
And we’d grow young together.
Only in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea,
Harsh as the elements may be,
Have I found this feeling
That sends me reeling
Into the sweet succour of your arms.
Never in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
Would we need to disagree.
The coastline’s vast,
Our angers pass,
Leaving only calm in our Kingdom.
But in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea,
All might not end charmingly,
For if you should go,
Or we’re both struck low,
Who is here to aid us?
Perhaps, in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
We might start a family?
Have kith and kin,
And live in sin.
We haven’t had a wedding.
I love the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
For what it has done for you and me.
We’ve marked our place,
And run our race,
Now let’s enjoy our victory—
–What if the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
Is just a teasing fantasy?
A fleeting thought,
Is this life and love a dream?
No, in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
I can hold you close to see
Your salt-sprayed hair,
And homespun wear.
I can feel you must be real.
Yes, in the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
I cannot doubt you. You’re the key
That holds me to this place and time,
That gives my story beat and rhyme.
You must be real or I am false.
At the end of the Land of the Slate Grey Sea
I know it happened: You and me.
We lived together happily.
But then, dreams are like that…