The Collectors ~ A poem by Alison Jones

The Collectors

Brighton beach, midsummer,
the elements caress each other,
as if winning attention is a great competition.
Which piece of plastic shines brightest on the rocks?

Beneath a steel grey sky, beside gunmetal shimmer,
we walk, leaning into the wind, ice-cream and fairings
our worthy ballast. We carry the remains in a sturdy cloth bag.

Busily, a man with a machine sweeps the foreshore,
swooping, arcs mapping the day’s contours,
holding hopes of a worthy hoard.
He tries to constellate things back together.

Beneath his breath, my son whispers,
he’ll only find bottle tops and other problems
My eyes question, so he continues to tell me the truth.
We reach for our black bag and make our own collection.
a few wrappers from France, a bottle that maybe Chinese.

Besides, I know what real treasure is,
and he raises a shining pebble – here –
between finger and thumb is a miracle of time.
I pick up rope and fishing line, disentangle a crab,
long dead, ensnared by mistake, never rescued.

We are shaped by the circular breathing seas.
In that moment, I know that a child’s wisdom is right.
There will never be conflict with nature for me.
One person cannot hold it back, yet each time we visit,
like others, we kneel in prayer and gather debris.

Brighton beach, midsummer,
grey sea, hard sky, bringing me all the lessons I need,
the challenges of having enough and cleaning up,
to keep the magic and wonder possible to hold,
in a small hand’s grasp.

Alison Jones

Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’, and a full collection forthcoming in 2020.

Photo credit @bjhguenn at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: