Two Poems – Sam Egelstaff

We have become plastic

Your small digits cling onto my finger.
A rare porcelain, untouched by sun,
Unfixed by slander, you pliable one,
unable to be rigid, I am now undone.

You are able to fit,
                       jigsawed into our lives
               and hang on
         in there.

Our role is not designed but innate.
Predisposed against ravages of man.
Yet, plastic cells now inhabit our bodies,
expired from the oceans, digested
from gluttonous overfished plates.

I ask, how much of you, little one, is plastic?
For you are a cumulation of a whole human being,
and you have merely consumed.

We have devoured the product,
from mega-farmed webbed feet.
Crammed those cattle sons,
we steal the veal from pumped mothers,
tubed up, to breastfeed our own babies.

We mould polymers that lose their way,
into this complex chain, from four-can carriers,
                                           polystyrene filled boxes, split beanbag fights,
                                           coffee-lids and cotton buds,
                                           Christmas crackers and cinema glasses,
                                           carrier bag cupboards, gold glittered eyes,
                                           Happy Meal smiles, foil wrapped sighs.

Our life chains are broken
by hostile components, degraded
over time. Drink those constructed cells,
from taps and hands, until we are nothing
but a byproduct, a manufactured mess,
left rummaging upon land-filled plastic
that we have created for ourselves.

But we still take our sip,
                                     from our plastic lid, so sharp,
                                     our lip bleeds like the neck of a turtle,
                                      distorted in our beercan ringties.

Take another slurp,
                                     so we can haemorrhage
                                      all over the sea floor,
                                                               like this plastic rushing tide.


Why do you caress me so?
A once pristine birthday gift,
aurum-dipped shell hanging
around your neck,
appearing from a silk purse,
shining like a new doubloon.
Now the worn gold tarnishes
my molecular structure,
perforated with a space,
a keyhole.

Your small nails try to reach through
onto the other side where grandparents
bought me, from a stall and chose you
as my bearer and my worth
became exponential.

You stare into me,
trying to see what I have seen.
For I have witnessed what you
have never had. Family,
transcended, emigrated.

But I have no eyes to see and
you have the eye of the mind
to imagine a visage like Niagara,
as deep as its chasm between borders,
as wide as the Atlantic trench,
that is the distance
from them to you.

And yet you still stare
with your once six year old
eyes into me. My plated aura
brandishing a staining metal,
green on your thumb.
A sign of a world beyond
my keyhole, reshaping me with
your haunting fingers.

Sam Egelstaff lives in North Wales, UK. She has recently received the Foyle’s ‘Teacher Trailblazer 2022’ Award from The Poetry Society for her work with young people. She has an MA Creative Writing is currently researching for a PhD at Bangor University, specialising on Poetry in Education. Sam is also a member of the Germany Poetry Stanza and is looking forward to their future anthology publication.

Sam has performed her poetry across venues in the UK, including the R.S Thomas Literary Festival, BritGrad Festival 2020, Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Evesham Poetry Festival. 

Her poetry has appeared in several publications including Counterpoints: In response to poems by R.S Thomas (2015), The Medusa Anthology (MookyChick, 2020), Cape (2020), Sonnets for Shakespeare, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, (2021), IceFloe Press (2021), Frosted Fire Press (2022) and Wildfire Words (2022). 

Sam’s poetry has also been shortlisted for The Butcher’s Dog (2023) and Hedgehog Press (2022). 

Sam delivers a range of creative writing workshops to all ages and abilities. Sam tweets as @SamEgelstaff and her blog is

Banner Art: Shore-line, a glitch visual collage poem by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2023.

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