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Elaine Feinstein

This is the landscape of the Cambrian age:

       shale, blue quartz, planes of slate streaked with

iron and lead; soapstone, spars of calcite;

       in these pools, fish are the colour of sand,

velvet crabs like weeds, prawns transparent as water.


This shore was here before man. Every tide

       the sea returns, and floats the bladderwrack.

The flower animals swell and close over creatures

       rolled-in, nerveless, sea-food, fixed and forgotten.


My two thin boys balance on Elvan stone

       bent-backed, intent, crouched with their string and pins,

their wet feet white, lips salt, and skin wind-brown,

       watching with curiosity and compassion:

further out, Time and Chance are waiting to happen.

From Poetry Nation no. 6, 1976