Monday, 5 December 2016

Poem: The Beach

by Fenella Johnson


 
The sharks killed them,
those blood faced boys,
whose bodies were strung in triads like Orion's Belts by the shore,
like crabs on rocks
or coins on dead men's eyes,
the gaping mouths of their wounds
like avalanches of roses on nylon swimming costumes-
the others bowed penitential,gutter-mouthed,skin choked,
legless on the stones:
playing at men's sport beneath the abstract lustre of the sky,
we watched them for a long time,pretending to be alone.

Remember when you and I were
seaweed children,
hearts eager and floppy,
prune thumbed,
preoccupied with the shrug of salt
not yet tilting adulthood into loose limbed being:
and the ritual-
we would scatter with our speckled feet,
the mottled pebbles,
that scuttling dance of scavengers
to pick the perfect prize to place in our pockets,
to skim at the ocean in pithy fits of foaming rage.

Our dives never split the seams of the ocean
but we too would go shark hunting on the beach,
delivering our coarse curses and our war cries in all our glorious savagery
when we wheeled our arms vicious eyed as we threw-
and watched our makeshift weapons spin across the water
our hands above our careful wounded faces in poses of glamour.
One day you hit a woman bathing,
the glossy star of her mouth bled from the stone that punctured it:
I thought of tyres being let out when I heard her curious awful exhale,
it was the same noise the boys by the beach made
like cymbals clapping in throats.

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