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On Winterton Beach by Matt Haw

My brother is casting out

his line weighted with lead

& mackerel-baited tackle


it traces into grey eternity

before splashing down

fifty meters beyond the surf

we are making a good show

of fishing   our rods bristle

in their rests like antennae


ready to receive vibrations

of spiny dogfish     whiting    

freckled dab     whatever


we can take we’ll keep

from this deserted stretch

of Norfolk coast    so late in November


we haven’t seen each other

in more than a year    the guilt

of this catches in my throat



& I spit into my open palm

a bloody hook   what kept me

away      hungry for being other


a stranger lured in by

loneliness   injustice   believing

I deserve these punishments



the scrolling line of breakers

curving away to either side of us

vanishes into mist   


behind us the beach rises  

to desolate dunes peaked

with swaying Lyme grass

brother     I’m beginning

to suspect that this is a dream  

which means we should


brace to be wounded by

what we reel in   or to walk

with nothing the mile


of empty sand to the car

hands stiff with salt & cold

if this is a dream

or the life I think it is


Matt Haw is the author of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole (2014) published with tall-lighthouse. He is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award and the 2019 iOTA Shot Pamphlet Award. His word has appeared in Poetry Birmingham, The Rialto, Tears in the Fence and more. He also makes films and writes essays.


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