Fierce

Fierce white feet,
paddling harder and harder
going nowhere
on the bristling waves,
somersault of light,
a foam of dolphins
drenched their glistening fears.

Player piano and the
drowned musician,
mazurkas of the forbidden heart,
it killed us with a bowl of fruit,
a single pineapple that
reached the shore.

Round and round in circles,
fierce little feet,
their widening wake,
carrying the laughter of
their skin.
I thought of spiders and seabirds,
things that never dreamed of death,
or burst pipes,
or a broken coast.

And the children trailed their toes
and combed the sea’s green hair.
She shuddered at their touch,
she welcomed their kisses,
and the paper boats that ignited
beneath a flaming feather in the sky.

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A Dozen

A dozen tiny children
squatting on the rocks,
crabs in pools,
wind collapsing seaward.
Children of a crueler world
pulling off the ocean’s legs.

A dozen sea birds
angry in the sky,
Stuka bombing
the silent fish and chip hordes.
The wind returns across the surf,
holding the hand
of a dead fisherman.

A dozen memories of you,
seaweed on the sand,
you waded here,
stones between your thighs.
The seagulls were happier then,
the children kind,
the crabs still had their claws.

Wild Coast

They were right to call it wild.
Even here, the houses of this
wind-beaten city grow taciturn,
and in their huddles,
speak only in hushed tones,
seem poised on tip toes,
and feel like stiff tourists,
or those who don’t stay long.

For there is still something
it commands in us,
as with the uneasiness of children
in the matriarch’s cloying room.
Here, we learn of limits,
and find again
the muteness of our steps.

And what do we know
of its quarrel with the sea,
which has left deep scars
in these cliffs,
or of the burden of salt
which it carries?
We are a passing of seabirds,
a foam of scattered centuries,

while it carves us
beneath a weight of solitude.
Between the waves
that breach like whales,
it remains the last
untranslatable, wild word,
a shoulder of wind.