debris

at every moment the beach re-writes itself 
out of nothing, waves form and fall
an inundation of lowlands, a strew of corpses
muttonbird, drinkbottle, a ship’s anchor 
cemented in the headland from the night
when the captain drove too close 
when the mate mistook signal fires 
for a church lit for easter — and they were lost

a leatherjacket dazed in a blue bucket
a shark in the estuary, dorsal slices the flood
sea foam blowing like snow 
(the children make froth beards, play at Santa
or lurk below the surface, little predators bless them) 

these things exist — literally, they’re here this morning

but signify nothing, nothing but a guess 
that paradise begins with the gull’s wing 
and the tideline is the fortune-teller’s scatter
— plastic nurdles and pearlshell says 
all things are possible, says

new things come from dead things
a hatchling fly on a slump of kelp 
iridescent thorax, red eyes 
wings like the lead glass windows 
of St Patrick’s on M. Street 
where they brought the bodies

women coughing
and on the wall their shadows  
men running 
shouting in the darkness    

Image: City beach, near coal loader, Port Kembla NSW. I’ve been playing around with this poem for a little while now. The line ‘and on the wall their shadows’ is from Rilke’s poem Corpse Washing (trans. Len Krisak).

And since we’re talking sediment, here’s Northern Irish contemporary musician Hannah Peel and the Paraorchestra with We Are Part Mineral.

5 thoughts on “debris

  1. Peter, one part of me says the perspective is that of an eternal optimist; another, the darkest of the dark sense of irony. One of the blessings and the curses of living so near the sea…

    Liked by 1 person

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