March 2024

Back to Issue 15


By Harriet Manasa

Feet – alive-o!

Heather-scratched, popple-bruised,

Toes-bent on splintered frith,

Dry-shod and sand-sprayed.


Hair – akimbo!

Hag-shone and brabbled

Like the sea’s cousin,

Maril’d in the evening light.


          Fingers – splayed!

          Ricocheted by squalls

          Bouncing inland,

          Charting glisters

          And bak’flan; incoming!


          Knees – trembling!

          In an’du

          Dune after dune,

          Squatting, sheltering,


          Each edge.


Lungs – scoffed!

With sea-oxygen air,

All foamy tumble,

High and intoxicated.


Eyes – aquiver!

Rushing on whispers

Careering forward

To the woppen sea.



Popple, a Dorset dialect word for pebble.
Frith, a Dorset word for thin twigs that have broken off from trees and bushes (and historically used to make brushwood).
Hag, the light said to appear at night on horses’ hair and at sea on men’s hair.
Brabble, East Anglican word for the sea’s surface.
Maril’d, a Shetland word for the sparkling luminous substance seen in the sea on autumn nights or on fish in the dark.
Glister, a Manx word for squally weather.
Bak’flan, a Shetland word for a sudden gust of wind that strikes a boat.
An’du, (from Shetland), the action of keeping a boat in position by rowing gently
Woppen, a Dorset word for big or heavy.
Dry-shod, a sailing term meaning not getting your feet wet.
Keeled-over, a sailing term meaning to roll dramatically to the side (beyond stability) or go upside down.
Scoffed, to eat greedily.