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When I Walked Out of the Sea


my footprints

trailed behind me

for a while

then stopped,


as though seeing

me off,


and I walked on

up into the dunes


where I turned

to watch them


grain by grain, wave

by wave,


up and turn

and return


to the sea.



© Paul McMahon

Picture 10287199, photograph, circa 1930, image copyright Mary Evans / Imagno/Austrian Archives



Originally from Belfast, Paul McMahon lives in Cork, Ireland. His debut poetry chapbook, Bourdon, was published by Southword in 2016. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The North, The Best New British and Irish Poets 2018, The Irish Times, The Stinging Fly, Southword, Poetry Ireland Review, The Atlanta Review, The Salt Anthology of New Writing, The Montreal Poetry Prize Global Anthology, Ambit, Agenda, and elsewhere. He was awarded The Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize by Carol Ann Duffy. Other awards include first prize in The Moth International Poetry Prize, The Nottingham Open Poetry Prize, The Westival International Poetry Prize, second prize in the Basil Bunting Poetry Award and the Salt International Poetry Prize, and four Arts Council bursary awards for poetry.