Saturday 18 June 2022

'Tidal' by Caroline Gonda

I used to live by a drowned river. Low tide, you’d see wading birds among the mud and stones. Seals on the sandbank, by the broken pillars of the old railway bridge. Dolphins even, sometimes, out past the harbour, too far off to see clearly. I never could get the hang of binoculars; they bumped my glasses.

We walked on the beach at Broughty Ferry, the summer before we were lovers, and watched the waves buffeting the angry swans against the harbour wall. That autumn, I bought you a silver ring with swans on it, framing a heart-shaped red stone. I don’t know what became of it.

Swept off your feet: it sounds so romantic. The flow of new love carrying everything before it, no way but onwards. Inexhaustible. The force of it took my breath away, left me scared and dizzy. I’ve never been a good swimmer.

A drowned river turns back on itself, the ebb tide and the flow pulling different ways. I used to go back to Scotland every summer after I left, to see my friends and walk by the estuary. You came with me at first. Later, I went on my own.

I live by the sea now, some of the time. You would have liked that. When the tide’s all the way out, at the spring or autumn equinox, the light is tender, milky almost, and it brings a quietness in me. I watch the paddle-boarders on the hazy water, the couples strolling and children and dogs playing on the wide expanse of the shining sands.


  1. I love the poignant atmosphere of this story.x

  2. What gorgeous and powerful images of love and loss and new life wrapped up in the cycles of nature. Brilliant.


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