help for when the tide is out

by | April 11, 2022

Sometimes I forget that I can walk for hours –

So unlike the long stupid steps, my crawl

Under a desk or up the stairs or through the

Door when drunk, a spilled coin of vodka

Inflating itself on the bedroom carpet, piles

Of laundry, crowded surfaces, weight of loose change –


And if I remember I forget exactly what

The hours quite meant, or where I caught

Or spent them. Each anecdote about the

Climb, a discussion about earning things –

The old sweat stains, or blisters born from

Places I don’t remember quite right.


Honesty is often wearing walking

Boots, I think – or know, perhaps, when

I am summited: my body small against the

Mountain and the sky, surrounded by damp

Smoking clouds and earth that bends to feet,

As if I am a single added stone.


Years ago, I walked the way to lindisfarne

When the tide was out. I remember how

The vast soft sand slipped off to the horizon,

wet and wide and endless in its quiet,

And I could hear with every step the wind


Creaking out at me, distant and wanting,

Attempting conversation as if it knew this

Was a pilgrims’ site – take off your shoes

And feel your footsteps slowly sink.

And for the last bit of the walk, I did.


Words by Matilda Houston-Brown, art by Faye Song.