Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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by Jon Miller

The big boy next door to our holiday house told me
and my sister how we had to walk backward
when the tide was right out in the bay.

So, once we’d buried our dozing parents
up to their necks in sand and bored of castles
and shells, we grabbed our supermarket salt and buckets

and ran down the beach to where it hardened
into ripples. Cold pools splashed my Speedos
and the tiny bikini covering your flat chest.

We passed black branches, an oily glove,
a rusty bike wheel. You slid on tongues of seaweed
and I thought about how, hours before,

fish would have nudged our waists
or how urchins, barnacles, clots of anemones
groped with their suckers and mouths.

When we were far enough out we walked
backwards, looking for the sag in the sand
so we could spurt a pool of salt into the hole

when we saw one and when we did,
up it slid, erect, blindly rising out of silt,
its muscle pulsing as it thrust itself up and out.

You knelt down, wrapped your hand round it,
pulled and out it came with a little gasp.
You giggled - you knew what this was -

and dropped it in the bucket. But all I could
think about was our parents dead in the dunes
and the tide rising between our legs.

The Board and Editor of Northwords Now acknowledge support from Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
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