Holt (17/12/67)

searching cheviot beach-crop

it comes around again –
this most dangerous/celebratory time of year.

50 years ago as a new generation began
lifting us from the old kings

a younger tanned
adventurous, many said handsome
spearfisher, philanderer, machismo child,
our own JFK in a wetsuit
kissing a mulloway for the press.

The Rip at Cheviot Beach always –
but on the tide turning
Port Philip Bay and Antarctica
it’s a train: the continental shelf
is littered with bones.

Marjorie Gillespie,
his lover (and family friend),
on the sand with a detective in a suit,
the salt ruining his shoes –
pointing the obvious horizon.

helicopters for days
divers hands barely
in front of them.

Marjorie on the rocks
– in a bikini and shift, the wind at her hair, watches
the Prime Minister his arm too sore
to wave – just a bobbing head,
a leaf being taken out…

perhaps with a frown,
or a wry smile,
his immortal feet finding
no purchase

…so quick and final.

and later,
like Helen, unconsoled on the shore
waiting to be implicated.

Image: Searching Cheviot Beach , Victoria December 1967, by National Archives of Australia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Harold Holt was the 17th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1966 until his presumed drowning death. Here’s This Mortal Coil with Song of the Siren . And for all you Christmas swimmers, here’s the Surf Lifesaving website – always swim between the flags.

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