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Clogerhead Afternoon

The tide was out at Clogherhead

Down below the scrub and sandflowers

The flattened epidermis of the shore

Lay exposed, bared by the scalpel

Of an invisible moon, children played on it

Gray trousered and pink frocked

Kicked balls, clambered around rock pools

The magnet of the receding tide attracting them

To jettisoned wreckage of the sea

As it did us, salt on our fingers

Seagulls in our hair


Here and there the jellyfish came in

Perfect disks, their internal structures

Obscenely visible through translucent skin

Floating to harbor in the sand

One unawares, carried a mollusk to its mooring

Continuing, the sand flats fled moistly away

To the place where white wavelets fringed into them

Like lace on a dancer’s bodice


Wetly undressed, the beach revealed its secrets

Scuttled crab carcasses, balloon-like shells

Fragile as sucked eggs, castles of sea worm dribbles

Intestinal homes of dark muddy mystery

Close by, waving fronds of one-legged crustacean

Ballerinas upended in the sand, beckoned us

To pluck them or dig them out to find out

Why they had buried their heads


Far out along the mossy rock line a crowd of gulls gathered

White customers at a popular sea food takeaway, they waited

To be served; behind them, tall and dignified, a cormorant

Stepped carefully across the backdrop of the waves

As we approached the gulls flew off in a shower of wings

Leaving the cormorant, a deserted monarch, to survey

His emptied court


And what a courtyard it was! Strewn with abandoned treasures

Spiraled curving shells with rushing music in their ears,

Glistening pebbles, their histories etched into them

Like signatures on Chinese paintings, polished by

Centuries of underwater currents to multicolored perfection


The tide was inching in at Clogherhead

Lapping to reclaim its sovereignty over the sand
The cormorant, dethroned, stretched its wings and body

To fly over the trees as we, clutching our booty,

Retreated to our car to warm ourselves

Against the chilling breeze

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© Johnmichael Simon



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