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Poetry: "Dreamt of a beach" & "Rival" by Becki Hawkes

Dreamt of a beach

that was covered in dead sharks, each one

planted upright in the sand, tails buried,

bodies shrivelled and grey, fins

flopped and useless in the sun. My brother

and I walked among them, looking for

one particular species (I could not remember

its name). We were both crying. The day was

very close and still. We were there for hours

but neither of us ever saw the sea.

We were looking for

one particular species. I could not remember

its name but I knew

that when I saw it, the word

would swim into my skull, fluid and predatory

and alive. We were both crying

but that was the only water. The day was

very close and still. We walked for hours

and we were looking for something

but there were only

salted bodies, shrivelled and grey, fins

flopped and useless in the sun.

I could not remember

its name

and then I could not remember.

Neither of us ever saw the sea.


C/W - Death of a young person

My old boyfriend’s old girlfriend

died when she was 19.

It was a hit and run. Afterwards

he wanted to die too

but I was there, and already knew

of plants that cling to coastal rocks

and sandbanks, anything that can grow

anywhere it can, those scattered colours

that are locked to cliffsides, drowned daily in salt

tugged and battered by stormwater

but do not unroot or let go. I knew

my job was to wait for him, to look

through photo after photo

of them together, say of course I understood

he loved her most. And yes

she was beautiful. A fist of nettles

in my throat. She was Tragedy

with a capital T, filmed in velvet lamplight

fattened on night berries, set to all the silken music

that ever made him cry. I held him

so carefully, for so many years, made him

a thousand seamless shirts, hid all

my jealous needlework, saw him break anyway

broke myself too –

but that was years ago. These days

are mine: I go to work, buy my coffee

watch the pigeons, pay my rent

let each new August sting and shriek and blaze

and snap and flower me, see flies

rise green as emeralds, cut my hair off

lie in meadows, dance by rivers, find her face.

Her eyes

meet the mouth of an old digital camera

and she has not changed, and yet

I barely know her. I barely know myself:

so world-bitten, rose-merry, crinkled up

in light and pity

and she so young –

so bloody fucking young I want to cry

Becki Hawkes lives in London (UK) and loves being outside and butterflies. A Best of the Net nominee, she is published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shore, Rust + Moth, Brittle Star, Pulp Poets Press, Crow & Cross Keys, Little Stone Journal, Lunate Fiction, Wrongdoing Magazine, Perhappened and The Madrigal (forthcoming). Her Twitter is @BeckiH_678

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