TWO POEMS – Sara Nesbitt Gibbons

First Sight of Real Seals

Their heads out, curved eyes on us,
reciprocating the salty, convex cabin.
Look, there, beautiful wooden bowling balls,
said my mum. Then,
My contact lens is stuck,
it had worked itself into her eyelid
and was cutting an imprint for a new eyeball.

I rescued her lens. We got into the smaller boat,
rowed to see Low Island, where one determined
wave had engorged a whole community
of monks, along with the island’s centre.
In the deep slit seals blinked as I looked
at my hands, which hadn’t flinched.



To Interaction

She was not behind the sofa but at the edge of her seat.
The astronaut’s technology left his voice
‘Ghosting’. Though dead, he spoke to his friends,
albeit on repeat. The same was true of angels
in a later Doctor Who episode.
Although, angels stole people’s voices as weapons.

Her mum had recently died. She’d kept
her mum’s mobile phone by her side,
switched on, for days after. It reverberated.
She’d called the undertakers, retrieved numbers,
as if she’d been given her mum’s voice
to make the arrangements for goodbye.

The night of her mum’s memorial,
a child her mum had cared for
left a message on the Facebook wall
she had not deactivated. 
I miss you.
As if it could be read. Other people followed.
Private emails, to the ghost in the system.

She took the mobile phone back home,
on a plane, across the sea. It wouldn’t
switch on. She put it in her desk drawer.
But the voicemail still worked.
People called sometimes, to hear that voice.
They told her about it. She called it too.

She calls it from time to time, over the years.
Not often. Today, she has forgotten the tea bags.
She does not want to go back out.
She has too much to do at home.
Although no one answers the phone anymore,
she decides to call a friend. No one answers.

She thinks of the answerphone.
A quick call to her mum’s voice
as she crosses the park.   She thinks,
perhaps she will play it to her kids,
sometime. She’s never left a message.
She just wants to hear her voice.

A recorded stranger apologises
The number you have called has not
and she hangs up.  Stares at the pond.
Draws a finger around each eye, the nose,
to stop it all coming out. Takes a deep
breath. Walks away, to buy the tea bags.

Sara Nesbitt Gibbons’ poems have been published in journals and anthologies, including Magma, Brittle Star, Obsessed with Pipework and South Bank Poetry and the Emma Press Anthologies of the Sea and Slow Things.  They have also been performed as theatre in venues as diverse as St Pancras International Station and London museums.  She was one of the winners of the National Poetry Library’s 2018 Instapoetry Competition and has had work commended in various international poetry competitions.  She teaches creative writing for wellbeing, in London, and is also a mother, not-quite-guerrilla gardener and low-waste blogger (

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