By | 2 February 2001

Carved images face distant Easter Island,
eroded remnants of unknown events
safe now, one would hope, for eternity here
high above this open boat, loaded,
preparing to leave that anchored ship,
the unravelling swell taking leeside water
peeling back, baring the coast’s rocky hips.

Nobody misses Matthew Quintal
nimble below, defying Christian’s law.
Those in the boat hear snapping & hissing,
a shaft of fire engulfs the stern like a pyre,
glow-worms of minor eruptions bursting,
then the Cornishman, backlit, mind flawed,
clambers down to the sea, his expression rapt.
Radiant heat makes them pull on the oars
feathering clear of the entrance’s white wash,
paler water boiling below the women
who watch now from the Hill of Difficulty
flames & burning ash shooting ever skywards
as seabirds arc around the heatcurrent, crying
& Christian feels a grief tug at his heart,
a strain he could never explain.

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