sea water, salt, blue in the shade of devoured fish,
and smothering silt.
Shoreline miles of child’s-running away -
what are they running away to, exactly?
They seem to like jumping in sea
but I know the shame of swimming classes.
Teacher’s hands are warm his voice
something odd about chlorine
the permeation of it public
Then, schoolgirls laughing
because I didn’t know how to swim,
but something else was funny too
and very public.
Immediate streaks of pebble deposits
measuring the progress of storm clouds
as they come in from the sea.
I crawl from the water
dripping with heavy salt
the children leap in -
secretive & bare sand
holds their footsteps.
we would get the bus into town, usually on a wednesday. out the window: seagulls fighting
over discarded chips, memories of the time one stole my hotdog, people we knew or shops we liked, what was on at the cinema
we got off the bus at the train station, in its various states of disrepair throughout the years (the lonely pair of vending machines have returned, they are fussy about pound coins) we cross the road, at the traffic lights, when it is busy we weave our way like fish through the crowd. when i was slightly older, i would deliberately try to lose her in the crowd: but it is a small town, i live in a city now: she still fishes her way through, hook&line attached to the doorway across the road.
the shop where we pay the bills is down a small side street that makes me feel uncomfortable in its simultaneous open and closedness it is quieter and dirtier, often the bins are full, and the other people here stare. i once sat on the pavement outside this shop, because i wasn’t sure whether i was going to be sick or faint. my mum bought water and a sugary drink. greedily, i drank them both. i remember when i was very young, there was a clothes shop my mum liked, because you could pay a deposit, then come back next week and pay off the whole thing. like an indoor carboot, everything jumbled together, a lack of order, except towards the back where, raised on a platform with steps, were a group of mannequins and displays with what i imagined was the premium, most expensive things: a mannequin in what i could not look at because it was scratchy lingerie. that may have been a dream.
that shop closed its doors before i was old enough to remember things fully, and has remained empty since, with various colours of To Let signs, but no biters. estate agents discuss different baits. this was a sign of what was to come: when i walk through the high street now, I can barely recognise where things were, since they were closed and replaced,
some things still remain empty and I think they will stay that way forever.
by chance, unmistakably,
fleeting. I never knew shivering, hard panic was
fleeting. What’s left now, but the aftershocks?
Waves of itching fear, badly released anger
and puzzling myself out of myself.
I have not always been.
Not always excitable, or firm,
or by turns, blissfully starfished
on the bed, post-love,
unaware of any hurt.
I have not always made choices,
especially easy ones like sunny garden, or
nap, or keep my eyes open, express vividly
love, body, rigid fingers thrust deeply
into soil, world.
Jayd Green is a poet living Norwich and studying at UEA. She won the Student New Angle
Prize in 2018, and has performed her poetry at festivals in Suffolk and Norfolk.