Day of a Seal, 1820

1 February 2013

A tall ship patrols the coast,
pelagic fish are vanishing.
I sniff the kelp and bloodworms,
mould into an eroded kerb
with an akward wriggle of neck, whisking
as if hiding my fur was natural
as instinct for milk, or man.

Tuesday afternoon, Bass Strait’s shadows
ring the slaughter sands.
A man in sandals reeks as he wheels his rage
with a pivot, swings his heft.
A half-caste. I watch him clench the haft,
before the first blow shocks.
He braces and repeats.

Black women from the camps pile our skins
on spits for tobacco, for oil.
Some snatch at birds with their gloves— now
I am weightless as feathers
my arteries shut tight, as if underwater,
the acidosis bearable though
I cannot strike back.

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