THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2016

Kaddy Benyon

HALF-LIFE OF THE COCKLE

TThey say if you find a whole one,
look at it sideways to see a fulsome, healthy

heart. Surely that’s what I’ve got here,
not-quite-burrowed in the whistling

black sands of Laig Bay, a huge cockle shell
snagged on Rum’s other mountain tops

reflected in the shore’s damp canvas.
I poke it with my toe, hope for a jumping,

leaping, bivalve; its one muscled digger foot
dragging it back to the Atlantic. I wait –

flip it with my finger but find it meatless,
empty, nothing tender left to protect.

Lifted, its channelled curve fills my palm:
chalky, pale, a salt-silt of dried up brackish

inlet water. I will it to live, display itself
like a pair of fibrillating wings, but no…

Somewhere in the flotsam of a teal-green sea,
this cast-away has a double, blenched

of all colour, gasping for its other, every bit
as unhinged. Single-winged butterfly; shucked,

discarded husk, did the dragtides never warn
you when it’s safe to open; when to shut?



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