Building a Lion on Weymouth Beach

Joanna Rimmer

My father has brought the garden spade to cut slices in the beach.
His blue sleeves flap like pennants under the promenade.

We shift a ton of sand, he with his silver blade, me with red plastic.
No castles to crumble, nor moats to fill with salty water;
we mould the massive bulk, shape a mane with our hands.

My father searches for stones where lace doilies form in the tide.
I press them into the lion's blank mouth, molars of quartz and shale,
then smile into the camera.

In his smooth, sandy coat, the lion gazes out across the Channel
as if water could not touch him.

Joanna Rimmer

Joanna had a somewhat unconventional childhood, being brought up in the grounds of a mental hospital near St Albans, where her father was a psychiatrist. She moved to the North-East in 1975 via Canada and a few other places in between. She feels as if this is a homecoming as the family on her mother's side were rooted along the banks of the Tyne.

"I am continually drawn back to writing about childhood events where the images still feel fresh, yet have had many years to mature.

"My first poetry collection, which has been eagerly snapped up by Faber, is out in October... I wish."

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Building a Lion on Weymouth Beach © 2008 Joanna Rimmer: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.

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