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Poetry: "[Love & the sea]" by Kirsty Fox

It’s a funny thing, nature/the sea, makes other things seem small/diminutive.

The waves smashing on a windy day, stealthily creeping up the beach and catching

you out water over the rims of wellies and then rushing back out leaving

behind just the dusk light.

The beach gleams with a vivid display of colour

pink orange pale blue and deep indigo form mackerel patterns

on the surface of the sand.

If you look down and walk forward through the shallows as they rush in and then

back out you feel drunk and disorientated like the world is travelling in a

different direction to you. It is.

There’s a certain enjoyment in this anxiety, in this chaos of being, in this turbulent

crisscrossing of moving things because you can stop any time you can look up

at a stable horizon which moves only imperceptibly

the handrail in a Fun House which steadies you when the fun gets too much.

You are the steady thing I crave in my life — an even constant that will tell the

same self-deprecating jokes and hold things up and make things function

a wood-burner, a roasting chicken, or the part of me that can change from

grumpy to cheerful at the drop of a hat.

And yet our flirtatious friendship stalled at something more, a tide retreating

and I think the feeling we shared most closely then, was disappointment.

The sand sinks beneath my feet as the waters rush in the gulls spill across the air

above the shallows, twirling and intertwining their flights with one another

calling out stories of good fish and hidden roosts away from the harshest gails.

The north-east wind is cold on my legs, defeating damp jeans and long socks. Large

raindrops splish unexpectedly in my face despite sparse clouds moments later

they’re gone. The sea has its own rain, its own pace of life

that is peaceful and enraged all at once.

It has the raw passion of brush on canvas, of teeth on bones, of a lover calling late at

night to just hear that voice before they resign themselves to sleep.

I want love to make me feel how nature does — destructible and in the same breath


The sound of flames licking the roof of a wood burner merge with the coastal wind

outside and the occasional rumble of passing traffic on the narrow village street.

Everything inside is driftwood and leather and old suitcases with rusted clasps,

nautical stripes draw cotton fabrics and wool minimal sketches of warm

clothes and layers of bedding surround us swallowing us as we sink and

disappear into afternoon sleeps induced by the sea air.

Soggy socks and gloves dry near the fire, despondent. Every source of heat is special

and loved in a climate of icy winds and persistent wet.

Here we are beyond the clouds

we have left all things behind

our bones aching from ageless woes

— the cold. The storm. Outside and inside.

Love and loneliness wreak havoc on the people we forgot we were trying to be. We

lose ourselves in books and movies because they say things we’re unable to articulate.

As if they will teach us to string a sentence together, to really speak to one another, to

communicate feelings that lie latent in our beings.

The truth is a dribble of cooled tea on the side of a mug as it’s placed back on the

coffee table. It’s a small reality that nonetheless matters for a little while to someone.

I will recall this story as a wry anecdote in years to come, of the time I tried a spaced

out relationship with a friend,

but we broke up on the first day of our trip away, a week spent as friends trying to

remould something we risked losing.

The moment passes the pot must be stirred and potatoes tossed in hot fat the

practical must busy our hands so that they don’t idle in existential doubts


In a few days time, we will part ways again we will return to our inland lives,

climbing back into old habits as sandy clothes are washed and folded.

And we will slowly forget about a this transient existence, and we will slowly forget

about love and the sea.

Kirsty has a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction and has had short works published in print, in Dusk: Stories and Poems from Solstice Shorts 2017 (Arachne Press), Stories in Sandstone: A Nottingham Anthology (Celandor Press), and online in ‘The Hythe: Digital Poetics #34’ (87 Press). 

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