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by rachel jeffcoat

My son tells me that tomorrow,

in class, they are building tiny

sea defences. They stop the land

from being washed away, to keep

the animals safe. He rolls the names around

like music: groynes, breakwaters,

rip-rap walls. I do not tell him how,

years ago, I turned and planted myself

sturdy in the sand because I knew,

heart-deep, the things that must not

soak him. You cannot stop the tides

from being the tides, but you can say

here, and no further. I said it.

No absences, no ice-cold slap of secrets

would steal his breath, or knock him

off his feet. His animal heart, it only knows

an ocean that still loves him.

I won’t be moved. It’s only sometimes

that I also wish myself some calmer seas -

one day, where I could ask the sun to rinse me clean

of everything.


Rachel Jeffcoat's poems examine the experiences of motherhood and womanhood, often through the rhythms and transformations of the natural world. She has had work published in Spelt Magazine and Sunday Mornings at the River, among others, and is working on her first full collection. She lives in the south-east of England, in an old house full of children and books.


Image by Bree Anne
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