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Sitting on a shingle beach, by Britta Benson

You’d think I’d written enough poems about sitting on a shingle beach by now. Apparently, I haven’t. I can’t really explain why, but the black shingle beaches on the Isle of Skye have done things to my soul I will be eternally grateful for. By the way, there are lovely white sandy beaches on Skye too. There’s even the most astonishingly beautiful Coral Beach near Dunvegan. And yet, it’s the black shingle beach in Staffin that will forever be a part of my soul and I simply have to go there, whenever I’m on the Trotternish Peninsula.

Sitting on a shingle beach

The soft, secret murmurs of resting heartbeats

trickle gently through cobbles and flow into the sea

with the inexplicable ease of necessity. Waves

come and go, their greedy tongues dart in and out,

licking pebbles, melting sandcastles. Water and life

take no hostages. Sleeping stones echo the whispers

of a past as I balance my soul on top of these rocks

and stare into faraway future horizons. I watch all

my hard-earned ballast break off, disappear lightly

into the humming beauty of a black shingle beach.

Britta Benson


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