Sea Mouse

The orphanage of possibility

has had to be expanded to

admit the sea mouse.  No one

had asked for such a thing,

or prophesied its advent,


sheltering under ruching

edges of sea lettuce –

a wet thing but pettable

as, seen in the distance,

the tops of copses,


sun-honeyed, needle-pelted

pine trees, bearded barley,

or anything newborn not bald

but furred.  No rodent this

scabrous, this unlooked-for


foundling, no catnip plaything

for a cat to worry, not even

an echinoderm, the creature

seems to be a worm. Silk-spiny,

baby-mummy-swaddled, it’s


at home where every corridor

is mop-and-bucket scrubbed

and aired from wall to wall

twice daily by the inde-

fatigable tidal head nurse.


Amy Clampitt

(1920 – 1994)


As well as painting plantlife, Victorian naturalist and artist Margaret Rebecca Dickinson closely observed and recorded the array of shells and creatures she found on the Northumberland coast.  I was pleased to spot my first sea mouse a few years ago in an after-dark rockpooling adventure up at Cresswell.

I’m going to be talking about Margaret Rebecca Dickinson at the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s Library (in the Great North Museum, Newcastle) on Wednesday 22nd August, 6 – 7.15 pm, when some of her paintings will be on display.  It’s free but you need to book – details here.


The first photo is of harebells growing from the walls of Lindisfarne Castle, looking across to Bamburgh, 19th July 2018.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “Liminal

  1. roseaob says:

    I’ve just discovered your site…via bugwoman writing about Jean Spracklands book Strands where she quotes Jean’s discovery of a sea mouse and (among other things) the first few lines of Amy Clampit (a poet I’ve who appeals to me, and again I could resist seeking more, after that ‘orphanage of possibility…’) on the subject, and, now here, find further delights..that make more sense of, give fresh life to, (and extend… to follow another day!) my memories of Lindisfarne and the Bamburgh ? coast and indeed more recently flowers (chicory) growing in castle crevices not far from the Albanian Adriatic coast that also warmed my heart, and now to paraphrase Emerson, in my greater indebtedness, makes me possibly a greater genius, certainly someone with a foot on the illustrious ladder..! Thank you

    • Thanks for this – hope you find more delights here and elsewhere – mostly charting my Writing the Climate journey at the moment – thinking aloud and connecting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: