The Isis Poetry Competition HT21 Shortlist

by | April 9, 2021

We’re at the rock pools again. 


You’re bothering anemones

putting your hand to your mouth

to taste the salt


Like licking the shiny side

of a crisp packet


We talk

about the old sea


The sea from before 


and how it used
to keep its distance


I have never been so afraid

of my body breaking



you hold out soft white stones, 

millions of other, smaller bodies 



Coccoliths, I say

You lisp it back to me, 

labouring over the t, 



Chalk dust paints
your hands translucent

Thick eyelashes,

Like rows of shark’s teeth 

And I think
of the bodies recycling,
calcium cuttlefish bones
being pecked apart by budgerigars ∎


Words by L Hankins. Art by Nat Cheung.