From the incoming tide
I rescue a stone—
deep olive green
tinged with yellow buff.
Its colours bring echoes
of old growth forest, as though lifted
from leaf-litter, moss and fungi
but stranded here
among the pastel shells,
the bleached and silvered grit,
it’s a misfit
dumped on a tidal surge.
I roll it in my palm, turn
and stroke it with my thumb,
rub away each grain of sand
and hold it till it warms.
In waves of harassment, the hostile
natives dive and shriek—
From the fig’s leafy head,
crouched in defiance— a red-eyed
intruder, huge and pale, keeps
them at bay with great snaps
of its bill and raucous cries.
When we’re talking of birds
it’s a summer migrant with many names—
stormbird or fig-hawk, rainbird or hornbill;
a channel-billed cuckoo, flown south
to breed and find hosts for its eggs.
As I watch it struggle against the flock,
I think of its journey
across the ocean, grey wings beating,
hour upon hour—
driven by instinct and drawn
to our plenty,
each year they find nurture
despite the clamour.
Across theTimor Sea, the boats
Some we hear about, some we don’t—
the third bridge
for my mother
It was a clean, sharp day
cut through with winds
from the Southern Ocean, so we wrapped
her in rugs and pushed the wheelchair
along the boardwalk, through rushes
and reedbeds, the grieving swans
the calling, circling terns.
At the third bridge, we stopped.
Beneath us, a tidal high,
the wind-dragged, surging estuary,
its sun-flecked surface.
And there we took turns to toss
him over— handful by handful,
back to the river, back to the ocean.
But caught at first
on gusts of wind, his ashes
lifted against the light
then circled and swirled in exultant loops
before the final fall—
the quiet passage beneath the bridge.