On Brighton Beach

I let my breathing
catch the timing
of the waves;

I don’t swim,
surf or paddle.
I don’t set foot
in the water at all.

I need to breathe
I sit
on Brighton Beach.

I love to know
I live on an island.
I know my people
are island people.

I am an island.
Boy becoming a man.
I am at university
discovering my identity.

I see wide open sea
stretch out before me,
but I know the big city
is where I’ll return.

When I sit here
on this beach I
close my eyes,
picture my position

on the coastline;
see the whole country,
continents and planet,
feel reassuringly small.

© from The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hodder Children’s Books, £7.99)

With kind permission of the author