Helford Side

Caroline Woodburn, inspired by a summer-time visit to Helford in Cornwall, reflects upon the closed and stubborn nature of adults in contrast to the playful, inquisitive minds of children.

Finding ourselves among the crowds of mussels
that cling,
awaiting a tide to kiss them back to life.
Tiny, clustered, grey with want of love.
Such hard shells withstanding even
the tread and tramp of children’s feet.
Little fingers grasp at them, at us,
and prise us from our rocks – discarded.

Limpets too.
A vast field of eyes it seems
that spy on us unshaken in their sturdy grip.
Push, pull, try to fool the foot to slip away
and give itself entirely to our grasp.
But they are stubborn, strong.
Little fingers have no luck,
twisting their ridgéd bodies from the rock.

Within pools a creature lurks.
Disguised as flower or jellied sweet
it sits and waits;
tiny fingers of its own dancing, swaying,
luring in the curious hands of ours.
And as we reach to touch red fingers,
baby suckers grab at us
and pull us deeper into shallow depths.

These creatures crowd and cling
and pull,
stubbornly unmoving, rigidly stuck,
waiting for the tide like we
alone did wait on Helford side.
The children crawled and plucked and dipped,
whilst we stayed stubbornly stuck.
Finding ourselves – creatures on the rock.

Caroline Woodburn is currently studying the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Essex, after having been an English and Media Teacher for 14 years, as well as an Assistant Head Teacher. Her writing often takes the form of human portraits, explored through both poetry and prose.

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