‘Le Coeur Volant’ won the 1992 Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Award Contest.  

It was published in the collection of winning entries The Changing Image. The judges were Joseph Gold and Veronica Ross


Le Coeur Volant 



He loved her

long before she


how deception

blew circles

as playful

and as cutting

as whipped up

North Sea sand

around their

labouring feet


He smiled at her

and drew her forcefully

into his embrace

soft as still sand

that hides

the many pollutions

that filtered

through their lives


How can we reconcile

that this

ever-changing sea

so dear to us

so much a part of our existence

is dying as

as we are dying

and as we are losing ourselves

again and again

to time


They walked through soft sand

then he drew near

then he drew away

like that time

when the current

pulled him in

and he barely

was able

to save his life


When I looked


to find you

I winced

as fate

glanced back

You were not alone

and I wondered

if once more

I was wasting

my good fortune


The policeman

and those dressed up people

from the past

Germans speaking French

directing Flemish men and women

to re-enact

a moment in the past

so long ago it seemed

until my mind stumbled

on a piece

of blown-up



We stepped through soft sand

drawing back

and then

drawing forcefully together

and my heart drained

as I considered

the many lives

I would never live


The dying sea

and that not yet

forgotten war

The daytime tourists

unwanted in a town

that favours to offer refuge

to the greedy bunch

of ever richer people


The force of the tide

that could have killed you

and my pain

at a love long lost


The wind

that reminds us

with arrows

of crystallized grains

and pulverized shells

or the log

stranded there

from a time

long past


With the sun

of a sudden


a deep smile

she told him

that life might be

a sad tale

after all


They loved

long before they understood

that love

like the greedy seagull

is only happy

when it soars


in a speckless sky