Pattie McCarthy
intertidal ordinary


I should say something about water

your feet cold in it


hunting for dulse

on an afternoon turned


hotter than expected
the boy puts a conker in the walk archive


& the season turns from shells
a coast becomes longer the closer


one looks at it — you turn
me inside out with your mouth




& the boy with a crab in his hand

left his heart in a fish & in his hand


a fishhook & beneath his feet

several feet of air between


his body & the working wharf
I take the photo from far away so


the girl is just a speckle for scale

not herself but rather a landscape


marker in the intertidal where we

are permitted to fish fowl & navigate





the law is unsettled as to whether

fowling includes birdwatching


the image is my daughter
her hands overwhelmed with hermit crabs


her rashguard a makeshift
pocket overflowing with hermit crabs


the high tide an unusual ten feet

going out fast & the crabs everywhere


a perigean spring is king & even

the ebb of a king tide is dramatic





skeletal wrought
iron light on the neck


people in love walk
too slowly           we agreed


equinox to solstice

attached please find


beginning at stake &

stones running six rods


together with all tide water

together with all tide water


a fast slack water
village bunting is contagious


maximum autumn mom

english for an estuary


rejectamenta the wrack

leaves behind high & low


tide lines & the boy pops

the brown float bladders


knotted spiral & toothed

leaves the holdfast attached


the season is the air

near water full of crows


& seagulls.       the trees

full of crows & one


osprey the neighbor

calls a fishhawk


the season is the way

the air tastes of crow


calls & salt

the long fetch of the waves





the walk archive achieves

through accumulation — the soft


paths mossy or midden

yield a bit to each foot


each sweet thud        the walk

ends where the water


begins — water
is challenging archival material


I bit my lips but

the crows cawed





the king tide is a spring

tide that has nothing


to do with the season

this prediction is historic


not harmonic

low tide history


reveals a delicate weave

& when the tide is half in


the mud mirrors clouds

call it a half tide space


assume me to be a vengeful

ghost       not one who urges


you to fall in love again

do not — miss me forever


instead        the tidepool

is only discrete at low tide


swamp me the rest of the time
the water was cold & the children


were brave         counting down

three two one & jump






off the wharf into a king tide
which was warmer near the top & so


we floated as long as we could until

the cold under water swelled up


waves grind their edges — I'm in

the library's skirts — the water


shimmers like skin & like

the skin of it I


expand to the limits of what

ever time I'm given 

Found In Volume 49, No. 05
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  • pattie mccarthy
Pattie McCarthy
About the Author
Pattie McCarthy’s seventh book of poems, wifthing, is forthcoming from Apogee Press in 2020. She is a non-tenure track associate professor at Temple University, where she teaches literature and creative writing.