Flies land on her wrist, legs, the tips of her eyes

remind us we are alive. “Go find something dead,”

she says. And the sun is here for us, the wind


takes our hair like a sail. The ocean I call mine

as if I was floating inside its womb. She says

she feels this too. We are looking at the stretch

of our mother –


both of us from the same place, but opposite. And

it is strange to look at an ocean you’ve known

your whole life and to see it from another side.

Like catching


your mother drinking a beer before church on Sunday.

You must look at her and admit Yes – this is my mother.

Flies will land on the lip of her glass. Gentle as a tide


she will brush them away. One shore is not a woman

nor a man. You need a boat to see them in their swell.

And am I anything like an ocean,


can I surprise someone by opening my hand as a wave?

May I too have a moment in sunlight when a boy or a girl

will look at me and say, “Father,

Father I need a boat.”



First published in the Eyewear anthology ‘Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam‘, May 2012