By Therese Kieran

What can I do? To
lessen plastic’s flow… I buy
a litter picker


Redaction for what the salt marsh feeds

Strangford Lough is a large shallow sea lough with a wide variety of marine and intertidal habitats. 

        It contains extensive areas of                    salt marsh 

and                          is Northern Ireland’s most important coastal site for wintering waterfowl.         important      for breeding terns.

Whole days I’ve travelled: Holkham Hutaff Cley Next-the-Sea
Sippiewisset Buzzards Bay Comber Nendrum Saltwater
the zig zag migration for terra nullius
falls on sea purslane at the edge of a verdant plane 
embroidered with dun & olive threads

                            The diversity of the marine habitats is 

internationally renowned.

nature is nurture is mother is father is life
is death is everything or nothing is gentle is cruel
is wild is the world around us is the future
is anyone paying attention?

                                A considerable number of species 

exhibit the ’emergence phenomenon’,               sublittoral organisms       

if only word play was foreplay for saving the planet
we could leave it up to the young people

Strangford also

                                    supports an important 

assemblage of vulnerable and endangered wetland plants and animal species. 

                                        marine sponges                                                

marine hydroids                                   

marine

mollusc 

                                        sea urchins  

skeins of cordgrass
threading the matted marsh 
unravel in brackish pools, worm through seaweed lagoons
where families flock & communities swarm
even a fetid sulphuric odour hums & belongs

this… this is good for us..? YES!

The mudflats support luxuriant beds of eelgrass; Zostera noltii 

 Zostera angustifolia  

                              Zostera marina        

                              Ruppia maritima   

readslike the menu of a fine Italian restaurant
succulents like samphire like succulence feeds

The mammal fauna                        

                  common seal 

                                          grey seal

                                                        otter.

this mother father shelter breeder lover educator
rich body of previously unknown facts & exotic vocabulary
feeds me &

in winter over 20,000 waterfowl.
Nationally important species contribute to this overall population of over-wintering waterfowl:

bar-tailed godwit 
black-tailed godwit 
coot
curlew 
dunlin 
eider 
gadwall 
great-crested grebe
greylag goose 
greenshank 
goldeneye 
golden plover 
lapwing 
mallard
mute swan 
oystercatcher 
pintail 
red-breasted merganser
ringed plover
shelduck 
shoveler
teal 
turnstone 
wigeon

Wigeon? Duck!
Goldeneye? Duck!
its green sheen head, its white spot
shelduck’s bright red bill, merganser’s serrated edge
coot’s biblical black – its unmade bed
greylag’s short pink legs
rust ruff flamboyance of the great-crested grebe
divers & dabblers, shufflers & stone flippers

for this gold from the salt fresh fringe
I’ll raise my sword, with my litter picker
do my bit on the ragged lough’s shore
out there busy around the margins

Note: This partly found poem is a conversation between the redacted text and the artist’s response (italicised) while researching salt marshes. The text is from Wetland of International Importance, Ramsar Convention, Strangford Lough RAMSAR site from the DOE, Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland www.daera-ni.gov.uk  The layout and use of negative space represent the salt marsh topography, whereas the redacted text is a reference to the ongoing depletion of natural resources.


Read Poppy Collier’s 26 Habitats saltmarsh centena and essay.

Read Sarah Farley’s 26 Habitats saltmarsh centena and essay.

4 thoughts on “Saltmarsh

  1. This is a remarkably bracing and poetic portrayal of a whole, teeming life-world. I feel I have made friends with at least 100 new and unforgettable beings, friends I want to keep and never want to lose. Thanks for the introductions, Therese.

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