The kingfishers appeared
more like darting fish;
their wings skimmed the dappled water,
assured they knew the measure
of every bend along their flight.
We were surprised by their speed,
how on the longest day
they flashed like neon lights.
Teetering across a path of stones
laid in the shallows like a string
of musical notes, we remembered
a school song about leaping frogs.
We held on to roots, fascinated
that they supported the bank‒side,
while above our heads leaves rippled
green applause to marble trout.
That dusk deer came alongside
to drink, and moorhens
brought a brood of chicks,
to roost within touching distance.
Dragonflies settled in tall grass.
Bats that’d been invisible all day
erupted from branches. Then, in the face
of the moon, we jumped.
All the Way Home
Boats lay secured along the sand.
On the last day a shoreline was ours
to explore. We clambered fast
across rocks as if we were crabs escaping
the beaks of gulls. Someone screamed.
Out of the water the body looked
like a wrecked ship stretching taller
than a man. Grown‒ups soon gathered,
poked tentacles with sticks. As it dulled
in the sun we headed into the surf,
squealing when brushed by seaweed
or shadows. Locals didn’t tell us,
the ‘man o war’ is a gang of polyps
that hang and work together.
The previous night fishermen witnessed
the shoal of giant jelly fish glowing
on the waterline, star‒studded
with venom that dissolves flesh.
Even when one’s been dead for hours,
its sting leaves a line like a whip.
See How They Run
Show homes are now open at prestigious locations
across the city. Canal and riverside apartments
are especially in demand; premium properties
for those who can finance a better view.
The fields where horses used to raise their heads
in hope of sugar lumps from a rambler’s hand ‒
drained. Land adjacent to railway tracks
counsellors said would never be built on
because no‒one could tolerate the noise,
are piled with wood trusses so thin, they sag
before concrete is laid. Corridors and double
glazed accommodation run floor to floor
like pre‒packed sandwiches. Rats wait
for crumbs. Mice fear their tails.
As children we imagined the redundant airfield
before the blackberry bushes, as if playing
alongside an old film, our arms splayed
to greet the bombers who limped home.
Juice dyed scratches on our fingers
as we crammed jars with fruit picked
from beneath thorns, which claimed runways.
As adults we gave up picking crops in summer,
from ripe strawberries to russets so plump
they were prime to fall from branches.
Dust tracks became mud stuck to our boots.
Birds and insects hovered like voyeurs for a taste.
We blame them for any blemished flesh,
invisible, until we take a bite.
Sally Flint’s poems have won awards and been anthologised most recently in A Body of Work (Bloomsbury) and The Tree Line (Worple Press). She has two collections published: Pieces of Us (Worple Press) and The Hospital Punch (Maquette Publications). She teaches and lectures in creative writing and has a particular interest in collaborations in the arts and socially committed poetry and short stories. She is co-editor of Riptide Journal based at the University of Exeter.
Featured Image: ‘Moonlight on River’, J.M.W. Turner (1826).