Walking north towards the estuary –
the high dunes on our right, the surf direct
from Ireland on our left – we come across first,
at winter’s high tide line, a scattering
of too many empty razor shells to count,
and then the urchin skeletons, maybe
a hundred, two, whitened by the wind,
some almost placed like letters the sea has scuffed.
These are ‘heart urchins’ or ‘sea potatoes’
misnomers for this lapidary piece
of calcium almost weightless in my palm,
patterned with pinprick embossing and tiny
repoussage. What storm gouged these burrowers
up onto the strand for gulls to disembowel?
Storms made the dunes half a millennium
ago – and sea urchins have been here
for nearly half a billion years but this
is the age of the Anthropocene.
We make the weathers now! Criccieth’s castle
is over the bay and, behind us, Harlech’s –
their quarried stones mortared with lime and beach sand
abounding with the dead.