The jetty stands knee-deep in sand
and forgotten spades
enjoyed for its shade and the sensation

of being suspended

freckled youth come here to play.


A rise and curve of skin bumps around a summer
my local beach, a blister of heat and hormones.

I tie my sarong tight.

Black and purple flowers
cling between thighs towards a knot at the back.


The jump is a test of bravery

against those who won’t,

a decoy of nay-sayers and doubts
dangle over like fishing lines.
I shimmy through a rail,


hold my breath then let go.

The fall takes me past clumsiness,
past blemished skin,
past embarrassing haircuts and their taunts.

Pure saturation silences. Buoyancy bound


to the kick.
Over scabs of a sea-bed, I become
something else, opened in the arms of a held breath
my smile rises like bubbles

beyond a surface, beneath the splash.


Ellen Shelley

Listen to Ellen reading ‘JUMP’ (1:30).


Ellen Shelley is from Newcastle, NSW. She is a poet who likes to write in response to real life events and emotions. Published in Eureka, Backstory, Other Terrain, Not very Quiet, Eucalypt, The Canberra Times, Highly Commended for the Philip Bacon Ekphrastic, It’s Raining Poetry in Adelaide, Cordite, Dámour, Australian Poetry Collaboration and The Blue Nib.

© text and audio 2020