Aisha Ali, a poem about grief and the sea
6th June 2021
I wrote this when walking along a beach in Porthcawl. I went there alone to be able to be with my thoughts and feelings. Something about being by the sea, the expansiveness, the openness, the magnitude of it makes me feel held and allows me to be myself without judgement. A kind of calm acceptance comes over me in vastness and ancientness of that landscape. Watching the waves go out and come crashing back, frothy and vociferous let me process my grief and that's what this poem is about.
When you go, you take a little piece of me.
I'm stuck, static, unmovable, waiting.
You flow over me, seeping into me and I take you in willingly
When you go you take pieces of me away.
You shake up my being, rearrange my way and flow away
to wherever you go, taking pieces.
I lay bare, alone and unsure of what has become of me
until you wash over me once more.
You, who are so free, of form, of need,
You move always in twists and turns,
in rivulets of froth and pleasure until you
come to me and sink in, to disappear once more.
You are so hypnotic and inviting but your allure
is only matched by your power to destroy.
Unapologetic, unstoppable, uncaring,
you keep coming and taking pieces of me with you.
As you move slowly, edging further away,
you reveal the spines of beasts of the past,
twisted, deformed and splintered.
This is what lies beneath you: a trail of dead bodies.
This is what lies beneath.
I become entwined with them as you go,
our scars beautifully grotesque.
Words, they matter.
If songs matter then the words they carry, more so,
as they are filled with resonance and intention that
I can feel in the depths of my water.
Your words matter.
As you go, this grief you left me with
stops being so surreally made of twists and turns
that render me catatonic.
This grief leaves me full of your words.
Words that matter.
I am forever changed but I have grown
and I join the bodies that lay beneath,
knowing full well that you will be back to engulf me.
To fill me.
To sink into my every fibre
til I am immersed enough to not see
where our divide lies and I feel you,
once again, creeping away.
When you go, when you go,
you will take a little piece of me and
when you go, you leave a piece of me here.
You roll powerfully in perpetual motion
away and I know I am once more laid bare.
Whenever I'm left, I see my skeleton bare.
Barnacles, limpets, seaweed with tiny pocket-sacks
of air grow on my spine but I am not dead.
I'm still there.
Aisha is a vocal artist, improviser, composer, inclusion and cultural producer, workshop facilitator and artistic director of Kiota: A Collective of BIPOC creatives in Bristol. She is a big lover of the sea and all bodies of water and dreams of walking the whole of the coastal path around the UK in her lifetime. She is passionate about decolonising arts spaces and creating more inclusive spaces for all and loves holding space for others to express themselves. She is a member of the company Beyond The Ridiculous and manages The Wardrobe Theatre.