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THE END OF THE HOLIDAY

Jenny Swann 

We drive home through the night. It rains.
Caroline falls asleep enthroned upon her
Britax baby-seat, her face turned to one side,
her wide cheeks tanned from gusty days on Cornish beaches.

The country roads form leafy tunnels,
a dripping,front-lit stage for owls and mice;       
the windscreen wipers draft such grand arcades
as they beat time to thoughtfulness and night.

How Caroline lived to hum her way along the shingle,
foraging for shells to bring and show,
her face anticipating our delight (they come home with us,
salty in the pockets of her crumpled clothes,
our memories enclosed with their fans and spirals). 

As bald day dawns across the motorway, we stop for coffee
from plastic cups, just us, some rooks and a few bleary cars
parked in a huddle around the coffee shop.

Caroline stirs , as if she heard an echo of masts jangling at
anchor in the harbour on breezy mornings-then drifts again
out onto the ocean of her dream.