It is a very old tent.

Ex-army, khaki, shabby, patched to cover rips and tears. 

We take it to the beach with us every summer of my childhood.

It’s where we go to change in and out of our bathers – girls first,

eat egg sandwiches gritted with hard sand, drink

hot sweet tea, tasting of metal from a tartan flask.

smell the linseed oil dad uses to stop the tent cracking

and splitting when it’s stored away for winter.


Inside it’s like being underwater, clammy, murky.

We hear wind picking up and waves breaking.

The tide’s coming in, soon we’ll have to pack,

leave for home, but inside the tent we are a family

gathered together after the jumping in and out of the cold North Sea,

warm in our woolly jumpers and everyday clothes.

No longer noisy. Settled. Safe.


The tent our cave and the khaki walls

a screen for the dim light that enters and goes.

Inside the tent we are shadows.




You come home looking prosperous

like a businessman who’s been on a long trip,

wearing a never before seen herringbone suit and trilby hat.

I press my face to your newly-shaven cheek

know it’s really you when I smell, ‘Imperial Leather.’

I’ve been away,

that’s all you say.

I grab your suitcase

swing it high.

Poet Moya Pacey

Moya Pacey is a Canberra-based poet. She co-edits the on-line journal, Not Very Quiet notveryquiet.com. Her second collection, Black Tulips, was published by Recent Work Press in 2017. Her next collection is due to be published later this year, also by Recent Work Press.


  1. Moya Pacey gifts the reader with both sensual memory and feeling- the joy of that case flying up into the air is still there.


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