Choose flat low tide if you can.
Choose super low, when sun and moon
pull to drag the ocean down.

Take a sturdy bucket that won’t float away
losing all you have worked for.

Climb down from the grassy path,
moving carefully over the polished granite rocks,
picking your path along the clefts.

Use your hands to balance
against the fall into space.
Remember that the barnacles are merciless.

Where the seaweed’s slippery surface hides
the firm rock face, step on the sharp barnacles
that grip your soles as if you are stone.

Sun hot on your shoulders,
feet icy in the ocean,
ignore the starfish.

The mussels are packed in rows half buried,
locked against your grasp.
Pull out the biggest, sealed against the sea.

Climb again above the tide mark.
Regain the path,
the secret hoard vanishing beneath you.

Lari Smith