Liz Bentley Delivery Woman and her short-listed poem

They didn’t look quite like this in the 1970’s but the colour is near as damn it

Chocolate Covered Honeycomb

We drive along the Esplanade, sea weed air like rancid cabbage

Seeping through closed windows of the Austin Traveller

My heart sinks. The tide is out. Again

Stoney beach with hard white dog shit hides between sand and shell

Black tar smudges on legs and between toes

The stains will remain till next time

My father the dog and I trek a mile out to the Ray

Deep in the channel of the Thames through thick mud

We arrive at clean river sand. Pre warned

The tide can sneak up behind and cut you off

The dog jumps and splashes in the water

My father sneaks up behind

A quiet cold school Monday “Come on you wimp!”

I entice the man into a murky Estuary. Stripping naked. Nipples hard

“Canvey Island’s over there. The home of Dr Feelgood. Are you feeling good?”

He is feeling good. The tide is high. He jumps and splashes in the waves

We peel off seaweed. Walk back to the beach

Dodging broken glass, needles, condoms

The beach hut is painted baby blue the colour of his eyes

“Come on. Let’s fuck!” I lean over. Hang onto wood slates of the porch

Breathing in and out our smut is over quick

Resting on sea worn stilts of the hut are our clothes

Shame covers me, again

He drives us to Old Leigh-on-Sea

Outside the Crooked Billet we drink Snakebite

The cockle sheds smell like fanny

We buy roll mops and soft white rolls mop up vinegar

“Are these baps as good as mine?” I joke

At the small Leigh beach we sit on wet yellow sand

“This water is full of shit. Thirty years ago the Island flooded

Fifty-nine died. Their ghosts still shitting themselves in the water”

My father helped Island evacuees

Ten years previous in wartime he was abused on a farm

We stop at the ice cream shop. Two chocolate covered honeycombs

One on the counter. One in my bag

His white escort van along the A13 to home

“One honeycomb for you. A souvenir.” I drop on his lap

The van disappears up the cul-de-sac

“What do you want for your tea dad? What do you want for your fucking tea?”

I turn the TV off. The stolen honeycomb lands on his lap

Uncut talons tear the wrapper and cellophane slides down

With purple sticky tongue and a smile he licks off the chocolate