A Crab Tide

1 December 2013

I tread where the mangroves end
in a high tide of red fiddler crabs—
machined claws, slow primordial heads
like sidestepping stones
wet-cemented in ooze.

From their tatty jaws, new planets
mass and tumble like pearls,
empires of new sand moons
forged in the ebb
where barbarians raise their hostile claws.

These coral relics, this foraged rot
are home, or half-home—
we falter, we twostep on the annihilating tide
where each fringe colony
flares and dies, flares and dies,

And breadfruits and ragged palms
whip as if they might lift off
to find an older idea of a shore;
metal beach shacks cling, cling
like limpets armoured in tin.

Now the idiot Pacific rolls its tongue—
here the razing of culture is ritual,
each anthill perfect and perfectly erasable,
perched where the black backwater
will smash overhead and bury it all.

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