Slapton’s sand trails – a poem by E K Wall

E K Wall
Slapton’s sand trails

I laid you to rest decades ago,
wrapped in a kid-smooth shroud,
put down in poetry’s casket, festooned
in an adolescent seaweed-string of syllables.
Words filled the gaps between your wax body and
the edges that we never got a chance to go beyond.

I buried you there, in that stretch between
happiness and pain, where the sky
meets the crushed sand and
you cannot hear yourself scream.
Surrounded by days out, debris, remnants
you seemed happy to be let go of.

Digging with a broken plastic spade,
I placed you amongst crabs’ claws, barnacled
limpets, a child’s sandal
unbuckled and useless now.
Love marked the spot, before the tide
turned, and afterwards too.

Ever so gently, I pushed you down
through people’s discarded things,
beneath disposable knives, seagull
droppings, traces of warfare,
centuries of storm.
Rinsed in tears, unable to damage anymore.

With you, I laid all of the things that you
didn’t say, your fingerprints from the
small of my back, an exercise book full of
questions, my grey-schoolgirl anonymity,
your noticing, the way that you made
my little world big.

Yet, still I open my stiff wardrobe sometimes and
find a handful of Slapton sand beneath the
outfits that you loved me in, or
dusting the bottom of the tiny box
where your letters live, breathing their metaphors
into the hanging space where my current life resides.

Sand trails that always lead back to what
we held, like water, in our already full hands.

“Slapton’s sand trails” by E K Wall was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2016) judged by Mandy Pannett.