A Loose Architect
There’s these two women I can see
(they’re making me laugh)
slouching through mud on Whitstable beach
pulling up timbers looking for oysters.
They have their hair up in nets
and have to lean on one another for support;
they’re wobbling and hovering, trying not to fall
and they rack out laughter and have to pull
on each other or else they’ll fall.
They’re holding hands, arms outstretched – silhouetted –
the isle’s purple shadow on the horizon
and the squeaking gulls lowing in the air.
They keep pushing further out to sea,
pulling out with the tide in the mud
looking out for oysters or mussels in low tide.
They quiver with the sun behind them,
and have to dodge a low-flying gull that squawks;
each bent and holding on to the other
trying not to fall, desperate to walk.
They’re far out on the mud flats
with gulls low-diving overhead.
I’m not too sure how old they are –
say, what fifty or sixty? – big aunt maids
shin deep in satin mud, submerged
in the slough with a bag of shells
tied around each waist and the sound of bells
from floating buoys knocking the air to say
the tide’s coming back like a bear to its cave.