No I can’t hear you
by Vicki Morley

Mummy dear, asking me
to babysit my cousin
on the beach in his
rubber ring, an old inner-tube.

I can’t take off my hat and change.
Captain Webb is calling me back
to the sea. I’ve got his swimsuit on.

The ocean is roaring in my ears,
seaweeds tickle my legs.
I float in the brine,
salt crusts my shoulders.
I aim to be a mermaid
I’ve blue toes and fingertips
like pickled walnuts.

Distant chimes of an ice cream van
puncture the choppy water,
spraying salt in my mouth.
I remember the taste of raspberry ripple.
I wade to the beach
lured by the hook,
of greed.

PHOTOGRAPH:  The author at Maenporth Beach, Falmouth, UK, August 1957, age 10.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicki Morley, a strange hybrid, having worked in intelligence at GCHQ at Cheltenham and been headteacher of two comprehensives, took early retirement. Some of her short stories she’s read at Falmouth’s Telltales, a local writers’ group. This was a useful antidote to removing slugs from vegetable beds. Then she moved to the town of Penzance, which is relatively slug free, and she writes poems. In 2014, she read a selection at Penzance’s Golowan Festival and The Literary Festival. Her ambition is to keep the local independent bookshop open, and she is currently buying from their poetry selection.