Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Thom in Hastings

Photo by Katy Park

This town that is my soil

Poet, writer and artist, Thom Kofoed has spent all of his twenty six years living in Hastings. Within a lot of his work is a deep-seated fear of leaving no mark on the world and having his life pass by before he realised what he had. He is frightened more often than not. He is trying in spite of it. 

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I didn’t leave. I stayed and then my mind went to Europe and it went to Dorset and Japan and to your bed with the views of the school and the light that bled through the blind until it drowned us in that room, away from the beginning, from all of the beginnings. I stayed because I am not sure who I am without this place, the place that fed me and filled me up. Not sure who I am without everything that it took away, the people it stole, the days that I spent with them, without them, alone.

I sit on the edge of a cliff, in the concave of a rock that recognises my back; because I have been here before perhaps, once some time ago with him and a woman we both knew who was still a girl but not to us. I have been here over and over. A circle working its way to the top; and then down again. I have been here with the sand between my fingers and the sand beneath my nails. I have been here and my name is carved into the side of a rock beneath his and above hers, somewhere in the middle of it all.

The tide is heavy today and it looks like a tongue and the sky is the roof of a mouth and the town that seems so tiny now because I am twenty-six is going to be swallowed, I’m sure of it. I imagine it not being here. I imagine a hole in its place, a bite mark on a map, the concave of a rock that recognises my back and me, alone with a past that doesn’t exist anymore.

My grandmother didn’t grow up here. I don’t think she did. She grew her children here though, my mother, my aunt, my uncles.  I’m chasing her down roads where their houses were once. I see her at the grocers, running around fishing huts, feeding ducks at the park.  I find myself walking inside her footsteps and I never saw her feet and it’s all imaginary I guess. But perhaps she was here. Trying to get someplace else, constantly trying to go forward.

I imagine this town with hands that grab at me when I get to its corners. I imagine them around my waist and on my arms. Sometimes I wonder if they’re pulling me back or pushing me out. The arms of the person you love can change from pillows to rope in an instant. That is this town, I sometimes think; a comfort and an uncomfortable comfort.

I wonder if I am the best of myself with you, this town that is my soil. I wonder if I shrunk down so I could fit inside it still. I wonder if I kept my mouth shut for too long, if I was quiet and meek and let the changes happen to me when I should have been the change instead.

I am on the West Hill now and I am looking at the East Hill and an ice cream van is stuck like a sticker to its side and people run like ants and do cartwheels and I can hear them laughing and I’m really sure I can hear them laughing. I think about calling something out to them, something that might echo across to where they are. I think it should be my name at first and then I think it should be the names of my parents or the date when they met.  I think about it but I never say it and the moon starts to steam up into the sky. An old fingerprint on glass. The houses beneath me, like boxes filled with things and stacked in piles, begin to light up and I start to see a pattern in the way the lights turn on although I know really that I don’t. More people coming home. Another day done. I am sitting on the grass, the grass that I ran across once on my way to the cliff, on my way to the sea, on my way down to start again at the beginning.

I look across at the pier, a charred skeleton balancing in grey, crashing waves. I think about what it was once, my cousin serving ice creams at its entrance and holidays and coin machines and chips. I imagine it having a heart inside that burnt frame. I think about it beating. I think about it beating.

I take my hand and place it over my eyes. I try to imagine myself someplace else. Europe, Dorset, Japan, your bed; but the town just won’t let go, its fingers pulling on my own, asking me to open up my eyes again.

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 Link to Thom’s website here.

Movie Character Illustrations exhibition at The Electric Palace Cinema here.

Posted 12:14 Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 In: Hastings People


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  1. joanna stephens

    thanks you Thom, for articulating what so many of us feel here in this town, the pull of the soil, the connection, time and time again.

    Comment by joanna stephens — Thursday, Sep 12, 2013 @ 15:03

  2. Diana Fowler

    How familiar that feels the way your words explain your own feelings. It made my hair stand on end with its familiarity. Love it and thankyou.

    Comment by Diana Fowler — Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 @ 18:56

  3. debbie fraser

    Words beautifully written. I love how you describe; so accurately and delicately. Delicate use of words which evoke powerful responses in the reader, without being overpowering. Spot on. Thank you Mr Kofoed.

    Comment by debbie fraser — Monday, Sep 9, 2013 @ 07:44

  4. Skye

    Thom, walking inside your grandmothers footsteps….I love that and can picture it all so clearly. Please don’t be frightened.

    Comment by Skye — Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 @ 19:59

  5. Alison Cooper

    Thom- this is beautiful…I feel it too…although mine is a welcome stay….and I know that if i go away…it is always there for me when I return….x

    Comment by Alison Cooper — Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 @ 15:58

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