i am the sea

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that january.
prestwick beach.

the sea heaves. swallows herself down
like cough syrup in thick slow gulps. we’d sat on this rock
just two days before, both of us with our backs to the world
staring out across and into
the thickness.

i counted a thousand and one seagulls that day
watched them huddle together, balance like storks
on a single orange leg the other nestled up in the warmth
of their soft white bellies as they, with uncharacteristic
patience, waited for the rain that would surely fall

and when the wind whipped up, andrew
jumped from our rock pulled his emerald green kite
from his rucksack tore off down the desolate beach his kite ploughing
a trench in the sand behind him, eager for the gust that would
lift it to where it wanted to be

and every few seconds he’d turn around
and run backwards untangling cords and calling out across
the increasing distance between us, ‘c’mon on ali! c’mon!’ and i heeded

his call, jumped from our rock and ran as fast as i could
in jeans frozen stiff as though they’d
been pegged on the line

in an overnight frost and i shrieked
with the gladness of finally being here with him—
and no black clouds could ever threaten this day for us. and he kept on
running and turning, turning and untangling till finally a gust obliged and
his emerald green kite soared skywards and free — as free as we are
ourselves if only we’ll listen.

we’d parked the car just up there by mancini’s
snack van, closed for the winter now, its magnum ice-​cream posters,
faded and neglected, flap listlessly in the wind and the menu promising
hot chips and curry sauce hangs on the outside wall,
saturated by rains gone by forcing

words to fade, corners to curl and brown
moisture spots to appear in the most unappetizing of ways.
we’d laid our picnic out on this rock, poured tea from our tartan thermos
ate buttered rolls, dunked mcvitties chocolate digestives and talked and
talked till the sun slipped off her shoes, turned out the light
and slithered into the black dreams
of the irish sea.

and days later with him already
too long gone i am sitting on our rock with my back to the world.
the sea heaves still. i watch her swallow the sadness rising
in her throat, as broken hearted waves throw themselves
at the feet of a shore that really couldn’t
care one way or the other.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Ali Whitelock

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet/​writer living in Sydney, though her heart still aches for the brooding Scottish skies. Her debut poetry collection, “and my heart crumples like a coke can” has just been published by Wakefield Press, Adelaide and her first book, (a memoir), “poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell” was published to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK. Her poems have appeared in The Moth Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Gutter Magazine, NorthWords Now, The Poets’ Republic, The Red Room Company, Beautiful Losers Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Glasgow Review of Books, The Hunter Centre Grief Anthology 2018 and will form part of the University of Wisconsin’s Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry’ at the end of 2018. She is currently working on her second memoir and second poetry collection.

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