They’ll get it all wrong – pretty quickly, here, 

from what I learn of tavern-talk and gossip; 

they say I told the sea that it must stop 

inching up shingle to my throne’s four legs. 

That was my point. I did, and it did not. 


Imagine setting up a throne on shingle 

to prove the king’s a man like other men, 

the waste of time spent ordering the grey 

dead waters to obey my windswept voice. 

It was a flat grey light in which I sat, 

the sea curdling a small way out, then running 

free at its last breath up the sliding pebbles, 

gasping and falling back but always rising, 

rising until it splashed my sandalled feet 

and I’d had it with telling it to stop, 

shaking my sceptre, telling it again. 


I got up, gathered in my robe and left. 

The disappointed flatterers didn’t follow, 

not straight away. The servants brought the throne. 

No, being king confers no special powers. 

And yet one wonders. Yes, of course, one wonders. 

from Small Hours (Faber, 2010), © Lachlan MacKinnon 2010, used by permission of the author and publisher, Faber & Faber Ltd.

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