By Amanda Bell
Look first for an open cockle shell,
spreadeagled on the damp part of the strand,
then, with your fingers, form a claw,
to dredge the soupy layers of the sand:
below the meniscus, bunched like fists,
their little clumps feel weighty in the palm.
It rained when I brought you cockling –
how fast the mist erased you from my sight –
then you happened on the picture-postcard
seaweed man, who stopped his ass-cart,
asked you for a light.
You leaned in, not expecting
him to seize you, or the strength
with which he held you, like a vice.
I think of you whenever I go cockling,
soft and shivering in your crackling plastic mack:
you thought he’d hide you under piles of gleaming seakelp
while he waited for the cold tide to flow back.
First published in Crannóg 35, then in First the Feathers (Doire Press, 2017)