The Bay by Rennie Halstead

The Bay

after a painting by Sheena Clover

Mud coloured our lives.
We ate mud, drank mud,
waded through mud to school,
carried sticky clods into the kitchen,
and always the fear of being caught,
held fast at flow tide,
hearing the swash of rising seas
gently splashing, filling
the creeks softly,
remembering Mary
the cockler who wouldn’t listen,
didn’t care, caught
in her desperation
as the tide rose, calm at first,
seeking this death until the cold
bit her back to life,
screaming then for help
and her father watching from his window
waking to the danger,
the white horse shuffled into the shafts,
the cart drawn down the staithe
and he fearful as the waters rose,
knowing how grasping clay
swallowed wheels, and the horse
anchored by the cart’s dead weight,
the quickening of the tide surge, the water
stretching to the cliff
and she only a head above the water,
the horse panicking in the shafts,
cut loose, the cart lost
while he watched the waters rise,
called and called until no answer came,
the screaming cut off and the horse bolting,
him clinging to the neck,
thrown heavily on the cliff path
as the tide smoothed over the bay
and next day, low tide
the ribs of a cart
half drowned in mud.


Rennie writes poetry, flash fiction and reviews poetry for London Grip. He lives in Kent.

3 thoughts on “The Bay by Rennie Halstead”

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