Beth Somerford – three poems

Coastguard’s Cottage

the pattern of light through the second-hand nets,
the self-checked squares of sheer on sheer,
the chequered days of walks and work,
my scribbled notes, your fingered chords,
the scramble of our sheets

the room where the boards are eighteen inches
wide and dark and move like cantilevers
where the bellied wall is swaddled
in lime from the cliffs, furnaced only
half a mile from here

Near Blackstone Bay

An old ghost forest, river thick with fish,
a lake of copper turquoise; here we meet.
We feel the earth and weather still, the ice;
the quakes that emptied lakes and drowned the birch.

Our history in the whittled totem wood;
in rings of lumbered trees, and pumice ash.
The morning clouds are also stacked, in reams;
like family, generations hunkered down.

Beneath the snow’s white shadow silence made
sweet tar we traded for our native schools
and medicines for our children’s children’s children;
‘til mountains grind to dust and rivers dry.

I heard my sister’s man went out to try
the lower 48. He didn’t stay.


Glistening May.
Across the river
a tapestry of houses
melts in the sun.
Wax crayon shavings,
colours blurred.

The queuing cars
edge towards the crossing.
The children run alongside,
skinnily, playing dare.
Laughing, languid – slip into
the back seat just in time.

When the ferry starts,
we move without moving –
shifting against scenery flats.
We share the sense
of weightlessness,
like falling, slow; like love.

Beth Somerford lives in Brighton with her composer husband and has four grown up children. She acts and directs, and also runs a small pottery. Her poems have featured in a number of publications and she was first runner up in the Frogmore Prize in 2014. Beth’s alter ego, Sam Chittenden, is Director of the creative training company Different Development, and author of Rhyme & Reason: The Poetry of Leadership, available via She tweets at @Different_Dev, has a website at and is on Facebook here.


3 thoughts on “Beth Somerford – three poems

  1. erikleo July 10, 2015 / 9:51 am

    I like the ‘tree poem’ but what is lower 48?


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