Margaret Royall

The Swinging Sixties
Argument over a maxi coat

My mum threw me that sideways glance,
said I looked absurd, that nobody wore
long coats nowadays.
Did I want to make an exhibition of myself?
I said everyone my age had them in London -
Trendy in Chelsea, uber-cool to wear one.
No one would turn and stare, unless with envy!

What’s more, you’ll not walk with me
to chapel in it. I forbid you, do you hear?’ 
She raced ahead, peeved, trying to disown me.
In London I aspired to be the epitome of cool,   
a sex goddess, popping into Bus Stop or Biba
for a cheeky little Barbara Hulanicki number.
Back in my home town, not so.      
Whispers, gossip, faces behind net curtains.
I rebelled, determined to shock prim neighbours
Look at me! I’m one of those weird hippy-chicks!  
“I’m sure God doesn’t care what I wear!” I said,
“Remember Mary Magdalen? She was a prostitute,
 but Jesus loved her!”

Walking the Broomway*

A silver-grey thread bathed in afternoon light,
meandering across the mudflats;      
sly as a slippery serpent, sinister shape-shifter, 
filling the cavernernous jaws of the creak.

At first a scant trickle, barely discernible, then
flooding, flaunting its power, pushing ahead
to cut off tardy walkers, trap the unwary.

I watch the black-backed gulls wheeling,
diving down, foraging in the clear shallows.

Hardy walkers stride out with purpose now,
putting distance between themselves and the tide,            
calling with urgency to their canine companions 
chasing the eddies, stout sticks lodged between jaws.
A sudden rain shower pushes through;
I fumble to pull a cagoule from my rucksack.
My black wellies match my darkening mood.
False bravado? A little too foolhardy?
This walk in the sea is a well-kept local secret; 
the thrill of outwitting the tide, 
manna for adrenalin  junkies…

But not for me, a novice minus requisite guide! 
Reviewing the imminent danger I regroup, 
reluctantly turning back for home again.                                            

* The Broomway is a pathway traversing the sand and mudflats of Maplin Sands, a treacherous walk out to Foulness requiring the services of an experienced guide. The tide comes in more quickly than a man can outrun it. To date more than 100 people have died.


Margaret is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes
and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:
Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To
Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely
published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired &
forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.
Twitter: RoyallMargaret
Instagram : meggiepoet
Facebook Author Page:

Flights. Issue One, June 2021