Lesley McKenna





pelagic open-ocean sub-zone epipelagic falls 200m from the surface down illuminates light for photosynthesis, plants, animals in concentration, fish pollock mackerel wrasse garfish plaice dabs; mesopelagic twilight middle slopes and falls and descends to can’t-see-the-depth reaches of 1000m, light insufficient for photosynthesis where big game fish blue and portbeagle shark predate on ling cod bream and conger. further still the bathypelagic dark 4000m beneath bioluminescent organisms lantern fish cannibalise each other, and the falling snow of detritus lands above. no plants here but deep-diving sperm whales hunt giant squid; abyssopelagic plunges to the ocean floor fathoms blind stygian hadopelagic 6,000m deep water, hades underworld trenched in unknown zone, few species live here in hydrothermal vents spewing heated brine and black-smoker sulphides unseen by searching human eyes


separation rising on the intersection between sea and earth-heaven borderland shining hung below massed cumulonimbus cloudscape shades of upper empty sky, blue white silver grey gleam invested with bright rays refracted from unseen suspended molten fire disc. the intensity hurts his eyes and he squints, covers them, slanting shafts of light on sudden summer squall, white-topped moving water approaches concordant shoreline erosion cycle inlet broken circle cove. outcropping fingers of rock tempt him to climb higher, reach the sky. surface becomes uneven wave circular rolling movement momentum travel effortlessly, wind and ripple irregular, interfering crashing onto. watches over, seeks the drowned kingdom of longshore drift below the headland cliff


coastal and estuarine stands on the promontory, greying hair whipped by the rising wind. foreshore exposures, rocks and landforms, precambrian eruptions of green purple or orange volcanic ash, larger lapilli silurian black slates molten rock face, cooled and crystallized gabbro coastline composed of basalt lavas distinguished by greenish-grey pillow-shaped protuberances on the coast, creamy-white display flow-banding devonian old red sandstone distinctive rock sun-weathering widely exposed in cliffs. green sandstone sequence deposited by braided rivers flowing over a coastal plain along seaward margins, river channels, first land plants evolving, earliest amphibians once active on floodplains, carboniferous nature reserves in sheltered coastal locations formed from marine creatures. blue eyes set in a seam of wrinkles scan fragmental remains of corals, lamp shells, crinoids beautifully displayed in cliffs, compressed peat layers from the swampy areas between river channels and salt water sea-strands where giant seed ferns horsetails clubmosses grew in abundance. and he walks down to the littoral line


dead man's fingers thrown up on the littoral zone weeds of naked excrescence, crunching footsteps on dry, crisp and cartilaginous sprung tongue abundant in the supralittoral fringe. beautiful eye-lash epilithic, epiphytic creeping chain completely flattened, and never hollow marsh lettuce, fluted margin of frond flax bristle, masses in muddy habitats, sandy pools. he braves the cold water of the shallow sublittoral, mossy feathers on sheltered cobbles and pebbles, edible wing dabberlocks, sexual phases emerging on exposed rocky shores, branched shaggy haired flaccid, terminally crowned with hair, egg wrack like pimply ripe grapes, bunches diminutive strap, wind-skin leaf crofter's wig, hummock-like growths, ribbed head-dress, erect macroscopic hair-like filaments, fruit weed oyster thief, fleshy spherules becoming furrowed and slightly lubricous. he reflects as he walks on Catherine Cutler's many clefts erect, sexual male encrusting asexual female, more frequent than moss wrack, salt marsh fringes, and mud saw wrack in pools on the shore, toothed wrack seaweed full of bladders, swollen receptacles. sea oak discoid holdfast grows luxuriant


he breathes in the east wind off the saltmarsh strandline, habitat of tidal sea muddy shore faunas, interstitial food chains. beneath the grey surface lie hidden hordes of cockle and mussel, he smiles, sings alive alive-o. larvae limpets polychaete ragworms feed on seaweed fronds, mussels cluster together, attach themselves to rocks and one another, byssal threads in mussel beds of successive generations, predatory dog whelk. rotten-egg smell of sudden changes in salt-water pools, eel-like gunnels blotchy brown distinctive black spot row white edged dorsal fin. crabs, fresh in sandwiches for tea, moult discarded shells, only mate when the shell of the female is still soft and the tiny crabs shelter among holdfasts in the low intertidal zone. long curling tendrils of mermaid's purse, leathery oblong egg cases of dogfish and rays. shorebirds, oystercatchers feeding chicks on the beach ringed plover on the tide line beneath sparrowhawk shadow find food running to and fro between the breaking waves


blue flags flutter in breeze wave over intertidal exposed low water mark impressive pebble bank, sweeping expanse of clean safe beach two miles long. his footprints sink in wet sand, often indicate definition of toes, soles, then completely cut off by the rising tide facing west open to winds from the Atlantic. surfers windsurfers kayakers and anglers beach-goers formed by rising sea levels at the end of the ice age carried south by the Irish sea ice sheet. preserved stumps of a submerged forest off the northern end of the beach, at low tide ruins of a tall colliery chimney overlook the southern end defensive line marks the linguistic boundary. he hears shouts of excited children paddling in tidal pools, joyous barking of dogs racing against the tide. colourful beach huts bordered by pine woodland, the perfect holiday destination, plenty of family fun. and he turns away


dry sand land-blown above highwater mark create storm tide wrack lines and landlocked dune islands fragile on the foreshore formed on old shingle ridges colonized by numerous habitats slip under his feet. he stumbles. strandline vegetation couch grass sea sandwort chickweeds and forget-me-nots. rights himself. stabilising sea buckthorn bush orange berries shell fragments in the sand provide nesting areas for characteristic wildlife horned shore larks little terns ringer plover. hears his breath rasp in his throat while visitors cross the beach boardwalks and steps protect hard-pressed vegetation shore wainscot moth larvae feed on marram grass, crickets leg their songs as panting he reaches the road


gentle harbour, active port. from here long sweeping beach stands a mile away from open water on which rests a handful of fleet fishing boats. he watches young men gillying for shore crabs from the stone quayside the beach bank, buys a crab alive alive-o and follows the course from the quay towards the lifeboat house. not a chain store in sight only quiet pubs restaurants amusement arcades narrow streets, to park tree-lined fine elegant colour-washed Georgian and Victorian houses, old alleys and yards, a church struck by lightning, quiet green lined avenues with lime trees much inhabited by artists. he is an artist who