Saturday, September 25, 2010
A peaceful offering to lay at my feet:
and its tendrils wind ribbons
round my limbs,
holding me close to the earth.
I can hear her breathing.
Tilt my cheek to feel the warmth
of her exhale
You bring the quiet.
Calm the clattering riot of thoughts
with their knives,
and bottles with rags lit
poised at shoulder
to fly and shatter in fire.
I can hear them breathing.
muzzled mouths, with iron brows
smudged black with hate
You bring the quiet.
Flying by stealth to the furthest point:
the searing light
of the desert sun
where I lay buried,
my body adrift in sifted glass.
I can hear my breathing
and then the sound of sinking down
beneath the crust
You bring the quiet.
Find my hand in the smallest hour,
in your sleep,
and anchor gently this
in night and day's creeping dawn.
I can hear you breathing.
We keep time without thought
And I can sleep, lion-like.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I watched her drown. There was little else to do. She broke the surface, splintered and sunk. It was a driving rain of wood and rivets cascading to the ocean floor. I saw lanterns extinguish as the pressure cracked the glass. I saw men burst from her belly fighting, then limply fall. I heard their voices finish in their throats. Their hearts stop.
And then the melancholy drift, down. Darkness swallowed all of them, and her, whole.
I could have saved a soul. But I was caught in the net of disaster. I could only watch dumbly, adrift in the current, safe in its strength. Had I swum closer, I too would have been pinned in the wreckage. And I've had my fair share of hurt and of saving, and of failing to save. Some will continue to smudge their black marks across my belly for that. Blame is the poison, and rage is the cure. Their vehemence so acidic that I can taste it in my mouth. And so I choose to swim separate.
I saw those men, their boot buckles flashing in shafts of lightning, clutching their rum bottles and silver plates til they lost their breath and their grip. I am one, and they were many, and I am slow. And the sea steals her men so quickly. She's such a hungry whore when the storms break over her head. They ignite the appetite of her entire being for bloody murder. She hears no one when she's locked in that desire. And those who die hear nothing but her rushing through them in their final terrifying moments.
That is how she stole him.
Brute force. A feast on a fragile spirit.
He had come to find me. Returning home from the great wars in the Atlantic. Bearing a spear in the side and lacerations, his skin sheared off in great welts. He had heard me. He always heard me. Mid battle with a tribe, full flight fathoms below. Tearing through dark and through the bodies of enemies. I'd merely cried out as I wept with loneliness. It was the child in me, come to break my back and banish me to the deepest blue. I was selfish to want him there. But he is my twin, my protector and had protected me much. He would never fail me. And I wanted him home, safe.
It took three days for him to return. He hugged the depths. It was almost daylight when he began his ascent. And there was a storm mounting above - a swirling mire, shooting sparks. It was gathering its strength with every mile, charged and vengeful. Someone had done some hideous wrong and there was a debt to be paid. Some sacrifice of flesh to be made. I could hear him now. The sluicing and exhale, though he was labored - so much so I almost didn't recognise him. I stopped still in the half light, stopped breathing to hear.
Lightning struck the surface. Lit up his face. Then the tide turned.
She was dealing her hand.
His full shape appeared in the dark in the briefest of moments - illuminated in the electricity.
I took in little more than his wounds and the silver flash of his eyes. In a raging, rolling wall of swell, he was swept upwards and churned over my head. I too was nearly knocked senseless and fought with every ounce of my strength in the wash, blinded by bubbles of air, kelp wrapping around my neck and filling my mouth. I screamed for her to stop but I was pulled into the forest. Down there she held me close. Through the leathered tendrils I watched him come apart. Far off in some horrific nightmare. Acres in between here and there. But the smell of his blood was as real as the sound of him in pain, ricocheting from surface to sand.
Until the echoes stopped and there was nothing more from him.
Just her. Screaming for her kill. Banshee murderess with bloodied talons.
And his name scraping my throat raw and wracking my chest.
Yes, I watched the wreck sink.
All I could see was him.
And now both have been lost to her.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Cape of Good Hope had claimed him.
Strange given he felt he had none.
I had to search for him - his shape barely there in Winter light. His silence his disguise.
He sunk into his chair by the porthole, staring out to sea. Watching her in her calm or agitated fury or deep unrest. She was his mirror but he was her servant. A slave to her moods, her bouts of violence - it was when she lashed our walls in rage that he could feel his heart in his chest. Fear would spark in his mind and pull him into alertness. She swept right through him and left him strung out to dry on the rocks. There he was exhausted, sullen and salt-crusted.
We shared breakfast on Sundays. Poached egg on toast, a cup of billy tea with brown sugar. I begged him to talk. I scraped my knife on the plate. Dropped yolk down my front. Slurped my tea. I knew better than to speak to him directly. It seemed I had asked too much of him too early and had worn him out. His words came months apart now. And I never knew in which direction they'd fly..
would it be the disappointment of a sharp order?
"Cut the light Ana"
(relief that he remembered my name)
or the knotted tales of seamanship?
"Walls of water blacking out the moon, the lurching, the heaving of our stomachs and the stench of it... we should have been snapped in half, pulled to the bottom. I don't know why she spared us."
Blurred snapshots. I never knew him, but I felt our blood - we shared that much. So surely I should be able to find my way to him? Scour the waves - listening for the rushing in his veins.
my father disappeared, swallowed like a ship in the mist.
He wasn't far at sea. He was here with me in the dead of Winter.
I didn't hear his footsteps echoing down the spiral. The last I knew he was keeping the light, scouring the bleak horizon as the storm clouds gathered over the rugged hem of the South.
He must have waited hours for the wind to lift, the waves to mount, all he needed to drown himself out. Mask his descent, the turning of his key in the latch, the wash and rain pouring in onto the flagstone. He would have timed his departure waiting for her recoil, arched to attack.
Slammed the door behind his back
Stepped out to the gap in the railings where our boat once docked.
Seconds before her tremendous force collected him
burst his iron lungs
and sent him spiraling in a seagreen blur.
He left me this lighthouse
and I still search for him in the night.