Land’s End

I go very seldom to the water. It is always there, just on the other side of the hill; in bed I can hear it breaking against the shore, in and out like breathing. It invades my sleep, so that my dreams are always of sailing and islands and voyages, or of floating, which is pleasant, but for all that I have only been to look at it once or twice in the years I have lived here. Somehow it is never as I picture it to be, smaller somehow, or larger; in any case, looking out over the restless surface of the sea only leaves me feeling unsettled and cheated.

When I walk, it is always with my back to the water, always inland. There are mountains there, my island’s steep shoulders, and from their sides I can look out to where the horizon flattens out and not feel trapped. The wind is stronger there, and carries with it the strange smell of the sea, and not the familiar, domestic reek of the harbor; from the broad cliffs I sometimes see the uncertain shapes of distant sails, older days.