The Beach

The Beach

A Poem by Steve

Mama told us there were treasures on the beach if we looked

hard enough. Crystals to steal sunlight and change the colour

of your eyes if you stared too much,

sea creatures that rode in on the white breaks

with stones for legs and claws to steal a finger

and never give it back.

we went down there one day

in boots the colour of dirty lime, the winding cliffs shifting

like the sea that watched us

surf and buoys like breathing cuttlefish eyes.

away in the yellow distance it groaned

with all the hurt of keelhauled sailors and wooden bones of wreaks

in black descent, a mass of churned creosote - enough to paint over the sun -  

getting nearer and angry and more vivid

than the pale earth we left behind.

running out across the sandbar something caught our eyes

a quarter way to the horizon

it was small at first then bigger

a thing of seaweed, no, a monster! Sophie squeals, rearing its humped back

up and down

among a froth of gulls and moor hens, a terrible mirage

and Sophie covers her face with tiny hands and

drew close the toggles of her yellow parker.

it was a tree I saw with my advantage of years,

wide as a yawn, lying sideways like it had just been felled

as voracious as any

in the darkest forests of Africa we read about

the colour of nothing you could ever describe,

anchored to the sea bed and crashing to and fro

like a rubber tyre swing, a vulture hopping towards prey, like skimming stones,

like a child following their laughter away from sea spray.


the next day it was there again only

I swear it had grown and I could see what seemed like

a lemon tree nestled in the crux of roots pointing upwards,

challenging the hanging sky,

the branches had grown down, sucking up the water like

a thirsty man and there was less sea today it seemed.

the beach surrendered to us as we kicked about among the blue rigging

of fishing boats, wondering all the time and being watched by

guillemots and jewelled corpses that crawled

from up the sea to stare.


Mamma said not to go down there again and it was seaweed and

toxins and plastic shell casings from war all come together

but we always found a way

even if Sophie was scared and wary.

we would sit at the edge of the sands at their most yellow and point out

the wreaths of petals that formed dragoons and galleons in the distance,

we saw a stevedore working there and we waved but

he didn’t wave back, he was a fixed painting

and the artist lived in my lemon tree

drip-dropping citrus to make the sea gasses curdle and retreat.

the water went with it, flecked with sea salt

like crowds of dispersed people, drawn by a magnet wind

that drew us ever closer

to the island. 

soon, we said excitedly, we will be able to go there and we

wondered about finding others,

parrots among the seabirds circling,

maybe other children with white smiles.

everything else that we couldn’t forget we pushed aside,

the war, and later burying mama under banana palms, the city

sucked a wispy grey.

out there, camped on the shore none of which seemed real

we saw frigates sail

castles with balustrades entwined with ivy

rolling mists from the breath of a conjurer

birch canoes fishing out lobster pots beneath

turquoise waters where the fish swam and never knew rain

whilst notes from a clavichord swirled above us, the

face of our father hidden under a felt hat and the sea spray.

Sophie once swore she saw Ahab rising up on the back of a white whale

harpoons and scars forgotten, cutting a line through the sea

and I believed her to, because she was the smart one who

would braid mama’s hair in the radio dawn.


we waited on the greasy shore every day, waiting for the moment when the

sea would take us,

but the path never opened and over time we wondered

- I can only speak for myself - but we wondered about Mama’s

words long ago, about the crystal secrets of stones that captured souls.

what if those treasures were overturned

and underneath a thousand eyes of sea crabs gleamed?

what if my lemon tree floating in a bronzed island

was the hump of Sophie’s monster, and the citrus was red?

but mainly we wondered waiting under the lean of the seasons

that what if Mamma was right

and the sea was a place to forget after all?

when the waters surged for a final time

it was with relief we turned and went away.


© 2011 Steve

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The waters surged for a final time... Nice write...

Posted 11 Years Ago

Amazing imagery and detail, pulled me in to see the scenery, nicely done.

Posted 12 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on February 7, 2011
Last Updated on February 7, 2011



United Kingdom

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