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2nd – Sea Portraits by Suzannah Evans


The waves break with coral cleanness
upon sand stretched white in the dawn.

Blue horses canter in the shallows,
caught in wave-swells that shake

shells loose from their sandy shackles
and send them, shimmering with sea-dew,

to the soaked and submerged shore. Here,
razor shells collide with the carcasses of crabs,

crushed by creeping tides and careless children,
and cherished by lonely beach wanderers

who stoop to inspect the scattered sea-jewellery.
Crinkled conches clutter the strand, colliding

with rose-coloured crustaceans and chiseled carapaces,
carving fragile forms into sea-frothed sediment

with sharp spines. One white whirl wears itself
into wet sand, a whisker-thin anchor between water

and whorled granite, a wrinkled wreck
wrested and whelmed by wracks.

Seaweed slides slyly into the sphere, seeking
the skeleton’s centre, shuffling slender tendrils

into the pink sea-perfumed petal and permeating
the polished peach interior. Silky sepia strands

slip outwards and stretch towards barnacles,
sliding with sultry stealth in the sea’s steady current

to subsume the Cirripedia. A scallop skims
the agitated spume and is snared, seized,

in the embrace of fingering fronds,
forced by faltering flotsam into the chill clasp

of brown-fingered forests – folded in a foaming
frenzy of fluid fucus – fought over by faltering tendrils –

… and forgotten, falling with the fluting flow of sea
to the dank deeps of sand-dusted dark.

Against the September sunlight, a seagull settles
on the sand, sifting through the strewn stems of seaweed

with stout bill and studious scrutiny, searching
for similar scallops and spume-tossed specialties.

One webbed foot wades into the writhing water,
washed by wrinkled wavelets, as the gull waits

for the sea-waltz to begin: and with sudden, swift steps
the seabird stabs the salty suds and spears

a shivering fish. Wings unfolded, the white form
wheels into the wide sky, wailing wildly in the wind.

A wandering woman watches as the winged
shape withdraws, waning to a white wisp

and eclipsed in a wink. The woman whistles
to her wet terrier, and treads tenderly

on the compacted sand that clutches
and clings to the covering of her boots,

clicking her tongue as the canine careers towards her,
carrying castaway wood cleaned and contoured

by the sea’s colossal tongue. The choppy chant
of curled waves ceases in her ear as she crooks

her knees, considering the curved configurations
of sculpted sea-glass, spread about the shore

amid stones and scallops. Her splayed fingers
search the sand, sifting sediment, seeking the

green glimmer of glass, glittering and sea-grooved,
to glean, to glide into her grey pockets.