On English Sand

Frinton, Essex. 1997

My sister was a fat, marshmellowy tot

With a white floppy sunhat and a rattle that sang.

We took her to the Essex coast,

Not caring if she screamed in the car on the way,

Or did a poo in the sea.

(she did).

‘This is real England.’

Where the fragile old binnies sit in the

Pavilion, wearing sweaty beige slacks and

Ketchup smiles.

They feed the swarm of seagulls,

Golden grease shining on wrinkled hands.

The tide slaps against the shady concrete

Underneath the beach huts, and we picnic

On scratchy grass.

A dead seagull is slowly eaten on a bed of pine needles nearby.

I fidget,

and watch for Ants.

My Nana sees a mole in the centre of my thigh and tells me to beware of cancer.

Amongst her liver spots

and sluggish skin

there is a vile scar,

puckering to a wounded abyss.

‘Only Worry if it changes,’ she says.


The air in the public loos is full of echoes:

the buzz of sand on the floor,

The relieved squirt of urine.

(There is oily loo-paper that never flushes,

And a steel mirror to see my sunburn in.

I check for freckles).


The new English Sand is flat and firm,

bouncing and indenting like a side of meat

Or uncooked pastry.

The black mole on my leg is like a

Baby crab on white thigh.

I find myself squinting away tears and salt,

I wash myself in bitter water.

The salt dissolves the stinging

In shiny, pink places, and goes up my nose:

A strong medicinal combination that burns inside.


In the white glare of sun in my eyes,

The standing wind turbines seem to be watching me from afar,

and I know,That somewhere miles out to sea

underneath the revolving arms,

there is a metal foot

Plunged into the dusty water,

quietly festering.


3 thoughts on “On English Sand

  1. if anyone knows any tricks for making sure that your formatting stays when you copy to wordpress, please let me know! I’m having some frustrations with the way it looks. Thanks!

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