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The Shingle Beach in Staffin, by Britta Benson

Most people, when they visit Staffin, go to the slipway where you can see the footprints of a family of dinosaurs at low tide. It’s a great spot. I prefer the other beach in Staffin, a little further to the north, marked only by a tiny wooden sign and then requiring another walk to get there. Today I went to that shingle beach, a place I know well. I have already spent quite a few hours there, just sitting and listening to the noise of the sea gushing through the shingles. Extremely therapeutic. As always, I came away much happier and of course also with a poem. Enjoy!

The Shingle Beach in Staffin

I sit on the darkest grey stones

and listen to the waves

rushing through these smooth rocks.

The sea turns the beach black in her wake,

before retreating noisily,

like a very messy eater

clicking, clacking, on and on

in sheer unadulterated delight.

Every shingle a click,

every other a clack.

Someone is enjoying this meal.

Greedy white fingers

reach out for my soul,

this scrawny, caged bird

that weighs a tonne.

The crests swirl close and closer,

in a rush to get to the table

and I watch them circle my feet.

I sit on the darkest grey stones,

the water’s strong tentacles

reach out,

grab my soul

and yank it straight out of me.

What a sticky, dirty runt

in need of a rinse!

I watch my inners get pushed

back and forth

through the thousands of shingles,

every rock on this beach

clicking, clacking,

eating up and then licking the plate.

I watch as undiluted bitterness

along with grimey gunk

that should never have stuck

gushes back into the sea,

simply slips through the rocks

and into the blue

with a click and a clack,

and a salty goodbye

as though it belongs.

Britta Benson


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