july river 30

the first ice-cream,
because he's a guest,
the 4-year-old tells me


july river 29

remembering who we are
as the sun goes down
we swap stories around the table


july river 28

unexpected gifts
the paddling pool deeper
after the storm

july river 27

all day rain
the edges of the playing cards
start to curl


july river 26

evening swim
the sea saltier
in the losing light


july river 25

a moment alone
I read my book
in the paddling pool


july river 24

Sunday morning:
a queue at the bakery
then sandcastles
and tiny silver fish
darting in the shallows.

Some days open to us


july river 23

the distance between us
I watch my step-daughter's plane
start to descend

july river 22

rotisserie chicken
I walk back
towards the scent


july river 21

beach beggar
her little girl
trickles sand
between her fingers


july river 20

the tiny waists
of girls in bikinis

the boys dive
into the waves


july river 19

thunder clap
I think about
the promises
he won't keep


july river 18

time to go home
a little boy fills up
his Crocs with sand


july river 17

the wind picks up
beneath dark clouds
the sea takes on
the colour of petrol

and now the rain

each day this week
summer has turned
against itself, as if it has
forgotten its own name


july river 16

the sea as clear as light this morning

a little girl stands under the beach shower
and opens her mouth

a rose tattoo
above a woman's right buttock

I step around the pebbles on the sea-bed


july river 15

the sound of children
playing in the garden
and the house sings


july river 14

Bastille Day
a boy on the beach
tramples his sandcastle


july river 13

a young girl turns
cartwheels in the shallows

the waves break short
like a splash of applause


july river 12

the fisherman's silhouette
edged with light


july river 11

these gorgeous girls
in their Italian sunglasses
and sparkly flip-flops
who move like water

I want to press a fingertip
to their golden skin
just to watch it spring
back into place


july river 10

holiday season
an english tourist reads
a tin of Cassoulet au Magret de Canard


july river 9

in the queue at the bakery
the scent of Ambre Solaire


july river 8

all day now
the chitter of cicadas
all night
the whirr of the ceiling fan

last night I dreamed
of a dark restaurant
an unpaid bill
I walked away from


july river 7

My father once gave my mother a driving lesson on the beach carpark while the three of us were in the back of the car. She remembers us shouting, 'No Daddy, please don't let Mammy drive.' She never learned.

45 years later my niece sends me a photo of her on a mobility scooter for the first time, negotiating Debenhams and M&S, her handbag in the front basket, her walking stick slotted behind the seat.

'Go, Mam,' I am shouting from 1,000 miles away.


july river 6

Almost nine in the evening and the beach is full of picnics: two kids and their parents eating sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil, an extended family on deckchairs around a line wobbly tables pushed together and leaning into the sand from the weight of tupperware dishes and bottles of wine, some volleyballers on towels with cigarettes and bread.

Sand, sunset, the voices of people who know you. The day's end like a pillow.


july river 5

summer rainstorm
the balloon man
sells umbrellas


july river 4

croissant crumbs
I try and find
the right words


july river 3

there can never be too much light


july river 2

Much less than a nest, these few snatches of twig and grass, yet the pigeon settles and resettles herself on the high ledge under the arcade, a ledge so narrow she has to sit with her tail feathers flattened to the wall behind her. And when her mate arrives and perches on the tiniest lip of stone before resting his head across the back of her neck, so for a moment I can't see where his grey feathers end and hers begin, I am reminded of love, love that shows itself in kindness, and I am pleased to be, even if it is an invention of my own making.


july river 1

the sun's heat
in a ripe plum