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Live Stream: The Stone Beach by Simon Armitage

Written by Rachael Norris, 13th April 2021
In today's Shared Reading live stream we are reading the poem The Stone Beach by Simon Armitage with North West Hub Leader at The Reader, Anna McCracken. As April is both National Poetry Month and Stress Awareness Month, the readings we have chosen to share this month all meet the theme of 'balm for the soul'. We hope you'll think about sharing this poem with someone who might need it today.
The Stone Beach
A walk, not more than a mile
along the barricade of land
between the ocean and the grey lagoon.
Six of us, hand in hand,
connected by blood. Underfoot
a billion stones and pebbles -
new potatoes, mint imperials,
the eggs of birds -
each rock more infinitely formed
than anything we own.
Spoilt for choice - which one to throw,
which to pocket and take home.
The present tense, although
some angle of the sun, some slant of light
back-dates us thirty years.
Home-movie. Super 8.
Seaweed in ropes and rags.
The weightless, empty armour
of a crab. A jawbone, bleached
and blasted, manages a smile.
Long-shore-drift,
the ocean sorts and sifts,
giving with this, getting back
with the next.
A sailboat thinks itself
across the bay.
Susan, nursing a thought of her own
unthreads and threads
the middle button of her coat.
Disturbed,
a colony of nesting terns
makes one full circle of the world
then drops.
But the beach, full of itself,
each round of rock
no smaller than a bottle top,
no bigger than a nephew's fist.
One minute more, as Jonathan, three, autistic,
hypnotised by flight and fall,
picks one more shape
and under-arms the last wish of the day -
look, like a stone - into the next wave.
by Simon Armitage
Copyright @Simon Armitage. From the collection The Universal Home Doctor (Faber and Faber 2004)

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