Treasure Island

Barney Rooney

(belfast)

Scour the Mud of Morecambe Bay


Frosted breath in a Transit van
on the M6 motorway
then stumbling out to work this field
of silver, brown and grey

Scattered out across the bay
where the cockle is free to take
bent double to pick from the sodden sand
what yields to the cockler’s rake

Read the sky and tides of winter days
and nature cedes a living
but if cold and hunger numb the mind
natures not for giving

The Silk Road didn’t reach this sea
no west bound caravan
of jade or gold or ivory
but vans filled with hands
to scour the mud

The ebb seems slow to drain the land
through curves and cuts in the bay
but the rush of the flood across the sand
will take their breath away

In Spanish soup the flavour is sweet
belly full, la cuenta paid
easy with wine and this Morecambe meat
23 guests dead.

A handshake sealed the trade
cheap labour plus profit slice
for young Chinese laid out to dry
the cockle’s price

The Silk Road didn't reach this sea
and no fair trading plan
sends cockles off to Holland
brings them in a Transit van
to scour the mud

Fingers point to lay the blame
gangmaster deemed the man
who tempted them to tease the tide
for a bed and cash in hand

Knowing neither tide nor time
wait for woman or for man
a cunning sea took these lives
and washed the guilty hands

The Silk Road didn’t reach this sea
no west bound caravan
of jade or gold or ivory
brought these children of Fujian
to scour the mud

Submitted: Saturday, September 28, 2013
Edited: Monday, September 30, 2013

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