Drum 3

having drunk whole oceans
down to sand in a past life
he felt the tide’s turn in his bones
felt the rot in the keel
the leaks in the bilge

what more is there to do
when a body is done?

what else can a body do
but go back to the sea
and give back what it borrowed?

so he finds himself at the end
beneath a wet moon
wading into the waves
singing for the sympathy of sharks

when they come for him
it is not without warning

they circle first
steel blue and looming
rolling on to their sides
a rumour of teeth

the first strike
when it comes
barely a bump on the line

it’s the second that hits hard
and so it goes

the sharks do their work
and he comes apart
veins breaking loose
uncoiling and whipping
reaching out to the water
strange blue bottle filaments
feeling their way back
a spine bursting loose  
a mad eyed Moray eel
lunging and gnashing
a belly burst open
red jellyfish spilling wet and slick into the night
a face
the perfect horror of an anglerfish
a dislocating roaring jaw
a smell of burning copper
a strange lantern’s light
blazing electric blue
then blinking
and fading out
great red ribbons uncoiling
snaking out
then dissolving
all the salt in him
being drunk back in

the sharks do their work first
then the fish
then the crabs
taking back what was borrowed

water returning to water 

salt returning to salt

in the morning
femur lengths of smooth driftwood
knuckles of coral
and empty shells
wash up on the sand
or drift in the shallows

flotsam picked up and turned over
in the hands of early morning walkers
feeling the weight of the wood
smoothed by oceans of salt and sand
thumbs polishing themselves against coral skeletons
ghosts of a million tiny lives 

they hold what is left of him there

reaching into the shallows
hands moving like water
coiling their fingers
in the memories
of strange red ribbons

doing their best to hold water together

the sky spilling open

then letting go
then letting go

2 thoughts on “Drum 3”

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