As a child I searched rock pools left aside by the tide,
tried to redraw picture books in real life,
from the shelf I could reach up to,
which divided to a
full page double spread of a watercolor a child painted,
better than I could draw.
The escapades of an Ann or a Barry
if the book was Irish,
or a Tom or Harry if they were English,
telling the reader, still reading slow in big print
of the bounty living in
ecosystems out there where mum or dad
might drive you if you’re good.
Though it was only a harbour in Dún Laoghaire,
but still here where the pier sloped
lay pools of warm water,
held up to inspection in rocky palms,
living with strands of electric green seaweed
deathless in air, but
filled foliage in the glassy water there,
and held tight to the water lips clutches
of dark blue mussels at one with the peppered stones,
wearing their barnacles of white craters,
moon surfaced and all living.
Reaching towards them,
childlike, thinking they had hidden pearls,
touch their periwinkle surface to see them
gasp and emit the bubbles fast,
suddenly sealed sarcophagi,
foundationed never to tell tight,
my hand would run along the colony
and one by one, would become fort knocks suddenly,
closing from the world to my touch,
and every pry I’d try in vain,
how do they see me
with no known eyes?
How do they taste danger
in this tepid brine?
In a few years’ time
I’d reach towards you,
days of body hair and weekends off and small print,
I press the beaming screen to see you close,
message delivered but no answer,
there is never an answer
or a conclusion,
only a monologue ebbing and flowing
only in you.
Well, I tell you I took a rock to those hangers-on,
And I split them at the seams,
two or three crashing at a time in cobalt shards.
And then I saw the hidden thing,
Look – the peach abomination shaped like a hook,
Like a tongue pulled from its tendon
And I prodded it with a stick
And they hissed and curled fast against the light attack
and saw no pearls
and that was that.