Monday, 19 November 2007

Leaving the ocean


silent in the sand
ran questing fingers through her hair

Short it was
but growing longer
since the harvest for her mother’s sleeping

Scraping sand
carefully and scooping
she uncovered finally the blackened face

two tiny places
which the eyes could see through
the nose and rounded `o’ of mouth

blackness with her gentle fingers
and bleakness with her weary eyes

carefully around the head to see
her shock of hair still there protecting

so big you seemed to be - and I so small -
You laughing as I learned to run

Seal babies
lolloped in the sea long before I reached them
You scooped me high into your arms

I lived
and you were grateful for a child so strong
You took me to collect the pool-meat and we gorged

Sea birds
wheeled around our feast
and took the shells we threw

The man
my father brought the fish
He caught it on the hooks you fashioned

hauling netted bags of silver blue and red
to bake inside the sun bright sand

on the freshest ones still bloody in our teeth
..putting scales and fins on arms as ornament

of the drying store to carry as we moved
to hunt the meat along the river plain

Gone now
The man my father died along the plain
You and I packed his bones with grass long dry

His face
like yours - oh mother - formed in blackness
lingers where the Atacama dries his weeping

The hooks
and spears beside his resting body
still serve him well - as I will see

My man
says we must go along the river
where last season’s hunting still lies waiting

My father
- close to there - will look into the sun again
and I will speak to him of you

copyright 1997 Charlotte Peters Rock

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