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This poem is taken from PN Review 126, Volume 25 Number 4, March - April 1999.

The Beachcombing Fergus Allen

Rising early I find the sea in curlers.
Not that it minds, because I'm a non-person,
Hardly someone to keep it from its chores -
Scrubbing the ancient beach, washing the feet
Of the dilapidated cliffs and skerries.

Covenanted to perpetual drudgery
It has no option but to bend its back
And get on with the levelling down,
Dreaming while it works of time off in lieu,
Days when it might catch up with its sleep.

The morning after last week's north-easter,
When the foreshore had turned over a new leaf
And the shells I used to hold to my ear
Had been buried for palaeontology's future,
My eye lit on a fisherman's good luck charm

Tangled in sea-lettuce and carrageen.

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