Little gods, we grabbed chalk boulders, tugged
till they capitulated with a belch of sea breath,
and lay on their backs, helpless, while we
rifled through the warm water
of the rock pool we’d excavated.
We hooted when a sea anemone waved
orange tentacles at us – a mini Titan throwing
bolts of brine. That drab shrimp
paddled right into the dip of your palm
and you pulled the sea-snail off its rock
with a laugh of triumph, though it
clenched its muscle foot tight.
Then came a day when a transparent crab
no larger than my thumbnail
dug itself into the wet sand with a flurry of claws
so furious, so determined, that I
wobbled, lost my balance altogether.
Small sea-salt creatures, you gave me
my first inkling of conquest and resistance
as I crouched in the blaze of the sun,
getting the seat of my shorts wet,
lifting the roof of the world.
Caroline Gilfillan won the Suffolk Poetry Society’s George Crabbe Award in October 2012. Her poetry pamphlet, Yes (Hawthorn Press, 2010) won the East Anglian Book Award for the best poetry collection. Her first full poetry collection, Pepys was published by Hawthorn Press in November 2012. She’s written and, with The Pepys Players, is now performing Meeting Mister Pepys, a spoken-word piece featuring poems from her collection, diary extracts and songs of the period.
As a member of Inprint, a collaborative group of poets and artists, she’s worked on projects combining poetry and visual artwork. She’s also a songwriter and musician. Born in Sussex, she lived in London for some time, and is currently writing a book in conjunction with the photographer Andrew Scott, celebrating London in the 1970s. She’s also a singer and musician, who leads singing workshops and performs with various bands.
Her poetry and fiction have been published in various magazines, including The London Magazine and Mslexia. For more information about her work, please visit her website www.carolinegilfillan.co.uk or find her on Facebook and Twitter.