Discovered in a Rock Pool

1 November 2015

A star-shaped object rising up
out of the water – five
wavering arms, five
spokes of a chariot wheel, five
curved cylinders, at their centre
a cluster of grey barnacles, small pearls, a silver light,

the water that drips from them
heavy with salt, oxidized
incrustations. A star tiara
from a drowned mermaid, the wheel
of some vast chariot washed up.
And, as it breaks the surface, this sharp sudden

fragrance like plants
left too long in narrow vases, the water
like urine drained out of dried twigs.
The wheel is a ghost of a wheel.
The fiery chariot’s return to
the kingdom of salt. And everything

shrinks and is less than a token
miniature apple, a walnut placed
as a skull-shaped offering on an
altar to placate the goddess of devouring.
Effigies stored in a rock pool.
This is surely someone’s

childhood not mine. Such simple things
might be placation or destruction. Starfish
or a galaxy intact
as its detritus. Burnt out. Cooling off,
cooling off in a solution
of brine and midday sun.

— Whom do you seek?
The woman at the centre of the starfish-wheel asks me.
— I am after another life.

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