Holly Singlehurst

the poet

Holly Singlehurst lives and works in Cambridge, England. Her poems have appeared as part of And Other Poems, while her fiction has been featured in Banshee literary journal. Holly was shortlisted for the 2017 Bridport Prize, and commended in the 2016 National Poetry Competition for Hiroshima, 1961.

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the poems

Love song from a

seaside souvenir shop

00:00 / 01:42

Instead of telling you how much I miss you, 
I send a small, funny magnet with a crab and a bucket, 
a bouncy ball, sun warm stones from an empty beach,
sand sticky fingers from a soft, ripe peach and the glass clear water to clean them.

I send you a fat, heavy parcel of fish and chips, steaming in damp paper,
buttery flakes in crispy batter and just the right amount of salt and sauce.
I hand wrap the bath warm evening, write something short on a postcard
with pastel houses, and cut grey cliffs, and a first-class stamp.

For a moment, I’m torn between a wood carved seagull with your name on it
and the whole ocean, so I get you both. The blinding glint of sun on its surface,
the tight squinting smile of your eyes when you look right at it.

It’s not on display, but I ask, and they have it – that secret sound the stones make underwater;
a solid bubble of your breath, so you can watch it rise up to the blue sky and break;
the best jellyfish, so small and domed and perfect that when you open it you’ll say,
It’s so pretty, it belongs in a bakery, and I’ll laugh and say, I know just what you mean.

Hiroshima, 1961

after Yves Klein

00:00 / 00:39

In the street, I am warm past my summer skin,
the pavement is burning the soles of my feet.
My shadow copies me as I open my arms. When 
I jump, it jumps, but it doesn’t leave the ground.
The light through my closed eyes tells me
a secret, that I am the most beautiful red.
And another, that it has travelled millions of 
miles, unobstructed, to touch only my body.

On Agate Beach

00:00 / 00:40

A blue whale has fallen belly up
on the sand, and crowds of people 
stand round with wet hair, hushed
voices, in their jewel bright shorts,

and the first woman I loved split
herself open from wrist to elbow and bled
out in the bath, up over its lip, slipped 
under the heavy wooden door,

and the floor beneath my feet is tiny stones,
and bones, and broken glass worn by water,
and a whale’s heart is as big as a car
and far more magical.

Publishing credits

Love song from a seaside souvenir shop / On Agate Beach:

  exclusive first publication by iamb

Hiroshima, 1961: The Poetry Society

  Commended in the 2016 UK National Poetry Competition

© original authors 2020

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