Gulls huffed up at the water’s edge
open their beaks with scissor sharp warnings.
Rose light fractals the inky ocean
that dances with the going down of the sun
turning it into shot-silk pricked with sequins as the
fishing boats put to sea, to disappear over the edge.
The impetus wanes…I wade against the water’s
force, which tries to hold me back. Each shadow
becomes a shark and ribbons of kelp brush my legs.
The unknown makes me afraid for I know
the sea as benign blue, scattered with half-bodies
that bob and beckon and rise laughing from the foam.
Imprints squelch on silver wet sand, darken and
disappear with each step until dry sand shuffles
beneath my feet as I cross the delineation,
which, scallops the beach, detritus cast by both sides;
a skeletal fish-head without an eye, a bloated
stinger with tentacles that wrap a rubber thong.
Now shrouded in safety I finally turn to gaze
at the ephemeral beauty of my rejection.
Placed 4th with a “Highly Commended” | Peter Cowan, Patron’s Prize for Poets, Western Australia