By | 1 August 2017

Relaxed, way out to sea,
way out of my depth,
unable to touch bottom,
reef, bullkelp, urchin spine,
I tread water, monitor backwash
and rip, listen for dolphin jump,
osprey, gulls in pairs,
catch Southern Ocean surge,
with neither compass nor chart,
semaphore nor morse code
to count the swill of atmosphere,
heart pump, the pressure
of fathom on lungs that
shudder, quake in hope,
remand slap and rush
against wavespray, stringybark,
windowframe, lock.

Deep under dunedrift,
shoulders, elbows subluxed,
askew, wrists disjunctured,
fingernails long gone,
my company, gooseneck
barnacles, cuttlebones, great
crested tern inspecting
my eyes for death, the meanwhile,
however, the nevertheless,
when only a newspaper page,
postcard shred, a fisherman’s
glass float, fray, hook,
shout, sunblack and blistered,
with nothing more
to be heard under the load
daytide squall parries far
across displaced wrack.

One million years,
ten, five hundred million,
stratigraphy dawning
over definition, site,
the slow flood of earth,
while I reconsider flightless
birds, crocodiles, sandworms,
evaluate flint, jasper, quartz
through carbon cycles,
nitrogen, the complex sugars
that once caramelled
your lips, pursed around
howl and whistle and roar,
sunk almost past lines’ end
until gales abate, seek
limbered skeletons to release,
expose unyielding bedrock.

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