Lepas Anatifera

There are likewise here many birds
called barnacles, which nature produces
in a wonderful manner.
 – Geraldus Cambrensis (1188)

It must have been borne
for months, if not years,
on the North Atlantic Drift,
then nudged by westerlies
past Skellig into Dingle Bay

and nudged some more
until the spring tide, flooding,
carried it over the sands
of Rossbeigh and, ebbing,
left it there, stranded

that morning at the tide line:
a big wooden cable spool,
its gaunt face and its mane,
no mere flowing but alive,
a Medusa to turn us to stone –

so many goose barnacles,
flailing in slow slow-motion
as though they were snake-
charmed – or – testing the air,
so many strange fledglings.

– first published in Cyphers 78, Autumn/Winter 2014.