Archives for posts with tag: shells

Betty's Bay
The tides of
tomorrow
and tomorrow
and the next tomorrow
sweep into crevices of shored shells.
The waves nudge these hollows of yesterday’s habitat

into the barrels of
tomorrow,
tomorrow
and the next tomorrow.
There the shored shells

break with tomorrow,
tomorrow
and another tomorrow dashed
to granules that lip the tideline.

Salted foam seeps this watermark
and in the kelp-laurels sandhoppers dance.

While paging through the anthology of Chinese poems on my bookshelf, I came across a nostalgic poem in which the poet embarks on a journey in his imagination and progresses to reminisce about his favourite landscapes. (The poem was Su Tong-P’o’s Inscribed on a Painting in Wang Ting-Kuo’s Collection Entitled “Misty River and Crowded Peaks”)

He ends the poem,

Returning to your painting, I’m taken by sighs of sad wonder.
I have old friends in those mountains,
	and their poems keep calling me home.(p. 381)

I loved this image of his friends’ poems calling the poet/speaker home. This was the starting point for my poem. Who would I call home with my poetry, if I could?

There is a crescent of beach to which my melancholy imagination often turns. This fragment of strand is in Betty’s Bay, one of my favourite spots in the world. It is in this place that my call home is set.

This beach has also featured in
On a rock amongst rocks
A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea

Betty’s Bay has inspired
Wild Horse Don’t Break
In this place, I eat butternut soup

Su Tong-P’o’s poem is in Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology, translated and edited by David Hinton (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2008), pp. 380-381.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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Seashell unknown 3.jpg
Seashell unknown 3” by WilfredorOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Time and tide, a mermaid’s song

The tides go out.
Can you hear me?
The waves roll back –
Did you know? –
with the shells discarded that morning:
reclaimed nonpareils for below.


Mermaids and singing maidens have featured before in my poems, as have the sea’s tides and waves. When I use the sea as a setting, sometimes it is simply a fantastical location – a kingdom for the imagination. On other occasions it is based closely or loosely on a real place, such as Betty’s Bay. In the case of this poem, I was thinking about Shelly Beach at Betty’s. At this rocky shoreline inlet, the tides bring in tiny shells in pinks, reds and browns. The shells arrive varnished by the wet waves and glisten like nonpareils (or 100s and 1000s, as we knew them as kids). When the tide comes up, the waves reclaim these pretty treasures. Like decisive hands, the powerful backwash drags the shells into the water.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012