Burnham Overy Staithe, Breakwaters - Kevin Crossley-Holland

Bank Hole

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Moored Man: ‘Quite’ 

Moored Man, a beautiful, dangerous, enduring shape-changer, is the subject of the cycle of poems I published in 2006, with watercolours and etchings by Norman Ackroyd. Moored Man is, in effect, the spirit of the complex mesh of saltmarshes, tidal creeks, sand dunes, sand-flats and shingle ridges on the north Norfolk coast. He moulds dykes, carts gravel, eats jetties and groynes, cuts off the unwary, drowns children, howls over them, dances, tries to understand who and what he is.

Two dead soldiers were found towards the end of World War Two in Bank Hole. The accounts of who they were, and how they got there, vary wildly.

This poem is the copyright of Kevin Crossley-Holland and is reproduced by permission of the Enitharmon Press. 



No one knows.


Or, rather, everyone knows

but each tells a quite different tale.


Moored Man listens.

He sleeps with one eye open,

gauzy with death-mist.

He who hears the artillery

of popping bubbles, beetles tap-dancing

and the shooting scooters,



They were home on leave.

They were Home Guards.


They were Germans.


Both men were wearing identical uniforms.

At Bank Hole, beside the groyne,

they stripped, or did not strip

but the sea stripped them, naked.


It's a day's dive to the bottom.

Diz with her webbed fingers and webbed feet

Is the only one who ever touched it,

Unless they touched it.

When the whirlpool dragged them down.


What of their stigmata?

Snagged, gashed on a spar's nails.

No! Drowned men split and tear.

No! They clawed each other.


Moored Man listens

until they are quite finished.


All everyone agrees

is both men were found floating,

they were lolling

side by side, moon-faces up.


For more information about Kevin’s work visit www.kevincrossley-holland.com.

Breakwaters, Burnham Overy Staithe, NHER 26674.


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