‘Now I will try to keep awake. The Fog. They must have come for me before morning. Empty streets. Across a dimly lit room. She lay in the shadows. The steps. One at a time. Not that i’m old. It was the mask. Plaster chipped off the walls. She lay asleep on a couch. A network of cracks and branding veins like the surface of an antique painting. Chiaroscuro. Figures half formed.’
The Beak Doctor – Eric Basso
After The Sea
Six months after the sea froze,
when most had retreated inland, away from the shore,
couched in the cities and hills,
the sea became our altar.
A point of pilgrimage.
Some of us dug with small metal spades, and forks,
looted from garden centres,
cracking through the brittle toffee shell to deposit our offerings.
Small plastic toys. Redundant remote controls.
Hanks of hair. Paper.
Some of us preferred to dig with our fingers,
opening up old wounds and lacerations, split and broken nails.
The old blood dried glove-like on our knuckles as we hacked at the ground.
Trying to find a small way into our past.
So we may appease the future.
We avoided the larger, open beaches where
huge torch lit congregations gather before the wave,
chanting and throwing themselves
repeatedly at the wall,
only to fall, pleading and bloody at its base.
Instead we clung to the small places,
the coves and bays, now nameless,
to kneel and weep and bury.
Satin shirts. Crumpled lottery tickets. Photographs.
I dig in the vitreous ground, create something that is maybe
half a foot deep, and unwrap my now lame possessions.
A small, final, Russian doll, lost without its elder siblings.
A page torn from the TV Times ,
now with four succinct words scrawled across it in black marker.
Feathers. A beer mat.
They fit the hole perfectly.
I try my best to cover them over with shards, knowing that when I next return they’ll be gone.
Behind me I hear weeping,
a long drawn out wail, and turn
to see a group struggling across the shore.
Two men carrying what is now all too familiar,
wrapped in a dirty blanket, one pale arm,
dragging across the shining ground.
The wailing women carry brightly coloured spades,
and shuffle behind,
their footing occasionally lost.