A tradesman’s shout from fifty years ago
nags at me, a fishmonger who’d appear
on winter Sunday afternoons selling
shellfish from buckets and boxes of ice
in the back of his van. When he stopped,
he’d holler, Cockles, mussels! Whelks ‘n winkles!
in a voice that gurgled like a blocked
drain and was thick as fog. Then, loud enough
to make sure we all knew he was there,
he’d start ringing a big brass handbell
that sat where the passenger seat would’ve been
if he hadn’t stripped it out, on the floor
by a pile of newsprint, bags, long tangles
of string, his whisky and a wide-open
jack-knife with a wicked-looking blade.
If you have any comments on this poem, Ken Head would like to hear them.