Poem — Peter Bland

Storm Beach – Coromandel

 

All things swim and glitter. Ghostlike we glide
Through nature and should not know our place again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A tsunami off the Kermadecs
curdles the bay’s translucent blue.
Mussel Reef’s out of reach (cut
thumbs at a stretch). A persistent
thud of day-long breakers
dulls the inner ear, scouring
wrecks from the undercliff, lifting
live pines by their roots. It’s bruising
being pulped to pre-history. We’re
not needed … but, anyway, we’re here
as these waves come at us from a long way off,
Bolivia perhaps, or Peru. Now
the moon’s up. Her face like a skull.
Beautiful though, no doubt about that.
*
At dawn, as the storm backs off,
the beach unfolds its ruined intimacy.
Axe-grooves on old totara logs
can be dated to before Cook stopped
off Sulphur Rock. It’s a forgotten spot
with waders tattooing the tidal sand
and the dry rattle of hard-backed crabs
under driftwood stacks. They say
first arrivals never left the shore,
living where they stood. Their
presence still imprints the air
beyond sight or touch … but only just;
some silences we share. They
linger most when fires are lit
among beached hulls and huddled whisperings.
*
That moon again. It’s enormous gaze
glittering on each grain of sand.
All night the bay’s awash with light.
Cicadas mistake it for a midnight sun.
The secret juices of innumerable shells
are beating at their pearly gates
and gleaming on the moonlit rocks.

 

                    Peter Bland

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