For Evie Chapman
She fetches me a mermaid’s purse she has found
among the seaweed where the sand
meets the mound of pebbles the waves have built
and rebuilt over the centuries.
The small black pouch, with tendrils like broken straps
and firm as dried leather, is an empty
egg case, from which a shark or a ray hatched
on the seabed, probably between here
and Ireland. Tides detached and chance brought
this empty womb, wafted by the currents
like a wrecked black sail, or a lost coracle.
Children in bright colours scramble on the mound,
their calls like seabirds lifted on the air.
Mer-people are amongst us, their fishy flanks
invisible. From the future’s gritty depths
she fetches me another gift, a white stone,
large enough to need two carrying hands –
an amalgam of crustaceans calcified,
preserved aeons ago.