The way the sea boiled that morning
should have been warning enough –
my palette so laden with Titanium White
it tilted towards my thumb.
Just as, hours later, the whole sea
tipped from West to East.
Roller raced over roller until
the ocean built itself into a wall
blotting sky darker than Paine’s Grey.
Then, with its racehorse tongue,
it gulped down the shoreline, seawalls,
promenades, amusement arcades,
ice cream parlours and, behind them,
offices and houses, even the church
(where someone said the last they saw
of the priest was this tiny black figure
clinging to one of the bells
in the tower). The skyline gone.
They found me later in the week
under thousands of others
washed up miles down the coast –
a human raft among splintered homes,
fishing boats moored inland
riding a tide of rooftops and trees.
They said my wrist and sleeve
were smothered in white
as though I’d become half angel.
By Pat Borthwick
This poem came second in the Poems Please Me Prize 2014
Illustrated by Lana Fry