. Wounded sun, light leaking down.
Winter rules the growling beach, this treacherous
stretch I have trudged, lead-footed, with the dog.
It is ungraspable, a thing of surge and storm,
. of sly, surreptitious shift.
. In the wide dry land
beyond this island off an island off an island,
fates are being ravelled. Today,
broken and fretted as the island edge,
. we vote.
. The body politic
hacks and gripes. Switch metaphor: to clay
resisting the mould of fractious opinion, porous,
wanting adhesion. The sand wraps me in guilt.
. Somewhere there should be paradise.
. Guilt, then, its vague dis-ease.
Is it down to the cruel and joyous, grit-gripped wind
as it scalpels the dimpled Channel water?
It is a day to be as out of sorts as the nation.
. It is not a day for metaphysics.
. I trap the dog,
tramp the dune hollow to the shack-shackled road,
stride north, the dog Larry-happy on his string.
The wind is trapped within taut morning pines
. cleaving beach from road.
backs the creek, enjoys its sodden carnal time,
its temporary teal, nut-breasted, its lapwings,
the white-faced heron, mere sharp stick,
. steeled and angled suspicion.
. Ugly scrark of wattlebird.
Cuticle moon in a wasted sky. Stiffy’s Creek
is beach-strangled, scumbrous; the dog, thirsting, pulls for it.
But there is a tussocked secret on the bank. It springs forth,
. a lightning strike of light,
. shakes out glory,
its flanks barred like a comic burglar, eyes anime-round.
It flimmers the sedge, a pure unlikely package,
a miniature brilliance to catch the breath. It bares
. the signature arse,
. the ruby mooning
of a bird of peerless verve. The firetail
unstoppers the balm of love, celebrates, as it seems,
the fathomless flair of nonconforming
. splendid life.
. We reach the creek.
Here is the firetail’s curtaining reeds. At the road’s verge,
car-struck, blood-beaded, is the firetail’s cold mate,
all painted ruined love, this flight, I now see, a fleeing grey grief,
. a heart-clutched death.
. We vote.
We order our silly, futile affairs,
launch our budgeted assault on the quick and tangled world.
Our works puff us up. I stare upon beautiful death.
. Know it too real.