Low water now and the motley of crabbers
is crammed towards the end of the pier,
leaving space for a merry metaphor
of our times, Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus,
with its innuendo and innocence,
its knowingness and charm, its vaudeville
of outrageous unnuanced half-truths,
its charivari of anachronisms.
The Bulkeley Hotel on the front (once
a private mansion of many rooms)
and the stone terrace of late Georgian
town houses in this holiday resort
speak of its erstwhile strategic value.
The servants in the yards would beat the fleas
from the covers, the curtains and the carpets.
Nobody takes home the crabs they catch.
The seabed surrounding the pier’s stanchions
is littered with the plastic detritus
of crabbing – nets, lines, bait bags of offal.
In dreams mottled crabs are manoeuvring
to the tops of the buckets, and scuttling
across the planks seawards.
Note: Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus – www.prom-prom.com.