He spends his days sifting pebbles,
rough hands separating
bladderwrack from driftwood.
He holds each piece to the light,
runs his thumb around its edges:
buffed, smooth, exotic as polished nails.
He collects them all - moss-green, ice-blue,
opaque as milk, luminous as fish -
drops them in his pocket, counts each chink.
They settle in the darkness like eyes,
nudge his groin
through the coarse cotton lining.
Their shift and chime
echo his step, the sough of the sea
as he crosses the shore.
Later he sets them in rows
like mermaid scales
or a colour chart for frost.