Victoria Pickup


The beach is a vast realm of endless losses.
Things dropped by carefree people holding hands
are clawed into the fist of a wave, fizzing and frothing
as trailing footsteps dissolve into soupy sand,
the dust of pebbles held in a long-dead hand.
Something that matters is taken and
redistributed to some unreachable land.

On the ferry, back pressed against hard metal bolts,
the rusted cold paint peels onto shoulder pads,
fingers trace the heirloom wedding ring, reconfirm
the presence of a heavy watch chain which
from here could so easily fall into the infinite and
terrifying depths, to spend an eternity amongst
electric fish with dead eyes and sharp teeth.

L’appel du Vide, The Call of the Void, beckons
With a bony finger, pointing at the futility of resisting
The urge to jump. The pull, the draw, the thrill
Keeps me clear of the scalene cliffs, wire-strung bridges,
Shining buildings scraping the skies and mirroring the sun;
Blinded and flailing, the suck of gravity is hard
Nobody can bring you back once you’ve gone.

I dropped my daughter’s tooth down the sink when she
was seven. As she cried to the omniscient toothfairy,
I unscrewed the pipes, each one a perfect slimy O,
Confirming my fears that a piece of her was forever gone,
In the belly of a drifting whale-shark, or worse,
Her pale milkiness slowly eroding in the sewer dirt.

The Truth

Will you forgive me, I wonder,
For showing you the ugly parts
Of my soul.

Will you look back and feel tricked
That I waited until rings were on fingers
And babies had been born
Before I turned myself inside out
And dumped those gnarly entrails
On the table before you,
To untie and de-knot
and spend the nights
Rubbing them between your fingers
Like a fine gold necklace
Found in a long-forgotten pocket.


Victoria Pickup has written two collections of poetry and is a previous winner of the Café Writers competition, with her poem about a Bosnian chicken. Victoria lives in Hampshire with her husband and three children.