We bicker in the car, heading east
to the Strood causeway, winter biting our tail.
The tide is low, the white-fenced road
dry and clear, flanked by stubbled fields.
We agree to disagree amid the clink
of sail-less masts. The boats are moored
in creeks, hung with ropes.
Paint-chipped wooden prows
lean between Blackwater, Colne, sea.
Silenced by the rhythm of our steps,
we pass dog-walkers, kite-flyers,
couples hand-in-hand, parents with children
in hats and mittens, windsurfers, beachcombers,
a row of pastel beach huts, padlocked for winter.
The salted air rushes our lungs
as we walk the sandbars and shingle,
crunching shells underfoot,
erasing footprints with footprints.
Shouts and barks and voices fade to wind.
The darkening mudflats stretch
beyond wooden groynes heavy with seaweed
out to a bank of metallic sea
glistening with possibility.
Two oyster pickers bend over buckets,
dark figures amongst golden pools of cats-paws.
The sun, swung low, huge in a cloud-flecked sky
dazzles us, bleaches our memories.
White heat glosses the cool sea
and Bradwell is like a ghost ship on the horizon.
Turning back, we stop to hear a curlew, and its trill
seems to rise from our throats, like a spell.
First published in South and Counting Rain https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/karen-dennison/4560258365
Karen’s first collection, Counting Rain, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012. Her second collection, The Paper House, will be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in February 2019. Karen is editor and publisher of the pamphlets Book of Sand, Blueshift and Free-fall and co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.