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.