Friday Poem – ‘Beachcombing’ by Tiffany Atkinson

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Beachcombing’ by Tiffany Atkinson from the anthology A Last Respect. Don’t forget to tune into the BBC Radio Wales Arts Show tonight to hear the announcement of the Wales Book of the Year 2021 English-language winners.

A Last Respect is a selection of contemporary Welsh poetry by winners of the Roland Mathias Prize. The poems included are wide ranging in style and subject. They contemplate relationships, nature, the environment, mortality, time, art and politics, and take place in a range of locations, from Aberystwyth to Baghdad, from war-torn landscapes to parents’ evenings. Featuring Dannie Abse, Tiffany Atkinson, Ruth Bidgood, Ailbhe Darcy, Rhian Edwards, Christine Evans, John Freeman, Philip Gross, Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, and Owen Sheers, it is a must-have anthology of poetry from Wales.


Children will enter the water hands first. There’s
a knack that women all over the world have
of putting up hair in a knot, the pale nape gathers
the salt. The babushka and the magpie
own the beach but no one cares. Her fingers
strum the muscles in her thighs. She’s a mountain
but her fingertips are diamonds. This patisserie
of crotches in their little wraps; how tenderly
we don’t look. Airport novels crackle in the sand.
Even the baby’s too dazzled to cry; his fat hands
bounce on the breeze. I have spent a half-life
on the wrong strand. Here’s the barman’s daughter
selling frappé. I would like a bitter chinking glassful
emptied on my head. I would like to drink the sea.
I’d like every tiny house of sand to wear me down.
When the small brown woman comes to snap the
last umbrellas shut, she’ll tut and sweep the bones.

A Last Respect is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy from us.

The Amazingly Astonishing Story by Lucy Gannon is on the Creative Non-Fiction shortlist for Wales Book of the Year 2021. Buy your copy here.

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