Bringing in the Shrimps
When the ground crunched like shells
and breath hung still as a frozen cloth
Les knew it was time. A man of land and sea
– ate only what he could carry.
Come on lad, he’d call
pulling my man from warmth into the November night
to drive along the bare coast road where people had done
with walking for the day, where trees curved
like net-mender’s hands.
Into the sift of salt-white pebbles they marched
abreast of the tide pressed dark far beyond shifting sands
and where the sea held its breath
set their nets on the bar.
With half an hour to scrape shoaled gullies – timing the turn
just right then back with a catch of phosphorescence
– a mass of heaven
steering into the bite.
We laid white sheets in the moon-shine yard, set wide pans
of water on the stove. My children woke soft-eyed and
wrapped in blankets to watch the sacks of grey turn pink-gold
in the boil – a spread of ancient tender swilled onto linen.