• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 06
Image by

Lost at Sea

In the year of lost voices, she went to the coast
where the light was giddy and the sky dizzy with terns.
All kinds of sad creatures washed up there,
little more than broken shells. She sat on the ledge
by the water because a sense of the edge
could sometimes be enough. She waited
all day, watching the sea cast its nets of diamonds
for nothing but hauls of driftwood and warning signs.
One wave after another left angry and came back
emptied-out and silent, sometimes the sea seemed
as if it might be too far gone, feverish and shivering
with visions, cycles of leaving and coming back.
Occasionally, it left a shipwrecked heart for her
on the shore, veined and glistening in its membrane,
a gift that it would take back again, washing away
the imprints and every sign that it had ever been there.
She might not have stayed but for the anaesthetic
in the air that numbed her, and the wise women
who brought her potions made of fish and vinegar,
salt for cleansing wounds, a lotion of sunlight
and sea water that she rubbed in twice a day.
They said she was in a place where even a storm
could be lashed on and worn like a poultice.


Lost at Sea

A small flower marked the start of spring and a gull
came everyday. She fed it by hand and watched it
outgrow all she had. Up on the roof, it woke her early
in the mornings and loomed above her head,
wingspan as big as a man. One day, out in the marram,
watching the gull chase her shadow as it split
through the grass into rats, it turned on her, swooped in,
screaming her name into her face as if to shock
a voice back into her body. She stayed silent
as it pecked off strips of her skin. It left with an eye.
The women bandaged her up best they could, shook
their heads. A shock like that could have raised
the dead, called the storms up. Nothing.
They placed the moon in the space next to her
in the bed and left. That night, she swallowed it
whole. Stomach bloated with light rising inside her,
it swept across the dark swell, and the eye,
flying high in the grip of a claw, woke and sent back
a signal from a dinghy swept out to sea: a little girl
screaming for all she was worth, her orange
sundress glowing like a beacon.