Already at home, here, the Celts,
On their fire island, in this corner of Kent
Long called Thanet, the gift, settled
The headland they knew as the Horn
– Or, in the Old English tongue as
And what we now call today Herne Bay.
Carved from the mainland of Britain
By the great sea lane of Wantsum, once
Wide, vital channel, brimming
With trade and invading armadas:
Swathed in Roman canvas and clinkered
Nordic oars, in unison, bristled
The silting water and open skies, shattered
Skeins of Brent Geese, migrating, and bothered
Curlews and Turnstones,
On shingled shoreline,
Into splashes of noise and colour,
Until just reflection and ripple remain.
And then, as now,
Just brickearth and gravel,
Memory and name.
Barnes Wallis stands on the beachhead at Herne.
Granite and bronzed, casting a glance
Seaward. He dreams.
He schemes, he wonders, remembers
Skipping stones, as a boy,
Over the water –