The Unfinished Ice Cream

by John Wilks
The Write Idea
Second Place, September 2011
Judged by Tyehimba Jess


Our first glimpse of the sea was of a dark
expanse, as flat as an asphalt playground.
The sun left yellow chalkmarks, roughly scuffed
by the cold steel blakeys of winter wind.
She leaned on the concrete wall: a defence
built after the floodtide of fifty-three
and spoke of her brother, who drowned when she
was still floating, safe in her mother’s womb.
The arcades were empty, the kiosks shut.
Dust gathered on last year’s bingo prizes.
No children on the swings that creaked with rust.
The sea looked the same as in black-and-white
photos of a grinning boy in swimming
trunks who would never finish his ice cream.


A poet that respects the sonnet enough to test its limits. Great alliteration while maintaining a focus on bringing the reader through to the end, with the sea yearning in and out of the body. --Tyehimba Jess

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