The sea-potato, Echinocardium Cordatum, inhabits the sea-bed
lives up to twenty years in a permanent burrow,
ambulacra crammed beneath hard-packed sand in pentamerous symmetry.
Mass mortality of the Heart Urchin is twofold and of the seasons.
First, a winter storm disturbs the deep; chokes those burrows with sand,
Smothering the hearts with chaos, pressure too great to bear.
Then the husks, spewed up onto the strand,
Picked over by undiscriminating gulls; Dilber and Stretch on a future Christmas morning.
Or picture a summer, if you prefer your tragedies unusually hot,
The sun’s over-attention spreads a blanket of decaying plankton over that sea-bed,
Deoxygenating the water as it settles down to rest.
Poor, unfortunate hearts, forced up, up in search of breathing space,
Suffocated for want of air,
They and their stellate potato-babies, thrown in their thousands onto a harsh white beach,
So that you may chance upon them
As you gasp in surprise
As the desert-hot sand burns the soles of your feet through cheap holiday shoes
Or as you lie, buried to the neck with your music box and gun,
Praying to a clearblue sky for the deliverance of cloud.