three poems by natalie sorrell charlesworth

The sea strips / the sand into strata, / shifts the timeline / on the tides. / The village / was Saxon, was Viking / was Roman. / Was here, then gone.

natalie sorrell charlesworth

Picture credits: Andrew

Christ the King, Fishergate Hill

Castle ruin, fairy gate, grey-white mirage

side-eyed from the slipstream windowpane

of a hundred early morning bus journeys.

Octagonal towered, Notre Dame aspirant

pulled flat on all faces but this. A demoted

church, the council’s truncated, votive offering.

One day I will walk up to your wall, press

my palms flat to your bricks. Push.

Picture credits: Preston Digital Archive

Tulketh Hall

Back to grass and heather. The hum

of masonry bees vibrating in their

honeycombed brickwork remnants.

Hidden undergrowth fed on ashes.

Here, a hunter once crouched

in their furs in the long grass,

watching the sedate grazing

of their next rabbit-skin hat.

Here, a monk once set down

his wandering staff, bricked

the world into windows, panes

of glass arching heavenwards.

Here, a man made a manor

of a monastery, rented out

the choral echoes of inherited

nobility, to trade and railways.

Here, they sent the orphaned

or unwanted, the short-trousered

progeny of parents on a budget,

for Latin, Greek and arithmetic.

Here, the army stored their secrets,

then forgot to post a guard. Lost

the lot to trespassers five years later,

ten-year-old Tom with dad’s lighter.

Here, half the roof peeled open

in a storm, like a ring-pull can lid.

The council puts paid to the walls

with a wrecking ball next winter.

Here lies Tulketh, interred in

Avenue, Brow, Road, Crescent.

Foundations’ bones tarmacked

under a car park’s cracked skin.

Picture credits: Tjer77

Domburg Beach

i.

The sea strips

the sand into strata,

shifts the timeline

on the tides.

The village

was Saxon, was Viking

was Roman.

Was here, then gone.

ii.

One winter reveals

a headless Victory.

She was carried

in triumph

to the church. Left

greening

out of salt until

she was reclaimed,

or lost,

to lightning.

iii.

In harder times

the villagers develop

criminal tendencies.

Wind their way

through the wave

forms of foundations,

the worm casts

of superfluous

underwater wells.

Seek plunder.

iv.

The currents change

on the whim of the weather,

call up

the temple of a forgotten

Roman goddess, plying

her faith amongst

the carcass stalls

of Viking merchants,

the graves of Christians

birthed

out of the mud,

heads facing westwards.

v.

For centuries of dark nights,

the villagers’ children

have crept out

through the waves’

boneyard, pillaged the surf’s

hand-me-downs

for the brooches and skulls

they liked the best, ferried

them home through

seaweed snares and crab nests.

Of the rest, little is known

and the locals’ lips

are salt-sealed.

Dr Natalie Sorrell Charlesworth, is a 29 year old Preston native. She won the Poetic Republic Portfolio Prize 2014, was specially commended in Elbow Room 2016, shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize 2020 and Jane Martin Prize 2014 and longlisted for Mslexia 2021. Her work has been published by Poetic Republic, Elbow Room, Beautiful Dragons and Hidden Disabilities.  She works as a Library Assistant for Lancashire County Council, as an Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer for Lancaster University and as a freelance artist and genealogist. She is an active board member for Lancaster Literature Festival and recently passed her VIVA for her Creative Writing PhD at Lancaster University.