Tuesday Poem: Riverton Beach Poem, by Mark Pirie

(For Tim)

Riverton Beach? I was there once
for a family reunion,
stood on algae-skinned rock

facing the sea, and thought
I was a child playing
by the cool water, sun-tanned

glassy-eyed, out with the family,
though it wasn’t me
that was playing there,

just my father – part of
my history, but, later,
I stood there too, and nowhere

did we skim stones…
My father was older now,
with son-in-tow. Me, learning

the far fragments of past,
feeling his years grow colder,
memory passing like a falling star.

Credit note: “Riverton Beach Poem” is published in Mark Pirie’s chapbook Poems For My Father (The Night Press, 2014), and is available from the publisher for $15.00.

Tim says: I enjoyed Mark’s chapbook very much, and it was an unexpected and very pleasant bonus to be reminded of this fine poem … and its dedication to me! If I recall correctly, Mark wrote “Riverton Beach Poem” in response to my poem “Stones”, which appeared in my first collection Boat People. Here it is:


Here, standing on the beach, is Dad.
Beach? It’s Riverton, rocks and gravel
from the tarmac to the grey sea’s edge.

Black and white. He holds an oblate stone
scoured out from the distant Alps
milled and rolled by frigid water.

He holds it poised for skimming. Out
it will arc, skip, skip, to fall
and sink for half a fathom.

I snapped him with my old Box Brownie. His eyes
look far beyond the frame I gave him.
Shadowed from the sun, impassive,
they are skipping over the years,
walking the waves to England.

The Tuesday Poem: This week, it’s A lyrebird by Michael Farrell, from Best Australian Poems 2014.

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Riverton Beach Poem, by Mark Pirie

  1. A lovely thing to have a poem written in response to your poem, Tim.A book written in such a way would be wonderful; almost like a work where there is a translation put next to an original poem written in another language.I think that responsive haiku is practised quite widely, both in Japan and by poets writing in English.

  2. Thanks, Helen, Madeleine, Penelope and Helen for your comments – and Penelope, I agree this would make an excellent concept for a book – I wonder whether it's ever been done?RegardsTim

Comments are closed.