Thirroul; What She Wore; Under the Sun


for Mark, 2010
But the eastern sky was very beautiful, full of pure, pure light, the light of the southern seas, next the Antarctic.
—D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo


I said it, Lawrence’s words are beautiful,
and a pale hand closed the college door.
The offending word, I learned, was beautiful.
I left that day, for good, to keep my word
and brought it home to you, but you turned queer
inside, lashing, a black and poisonous bud,
crush . . . you said . . . culture-cringe . . . theorizing . . . crud.
Those ugly days seem like a distant war.

We lost ourselves travelling to this shore
where the land once smelled of honeysuckle
and men picked shells, black snails and sea-coal.
Your face looks out like his did, hard and clear
and sea-bitter. We are standing where he knew
that one of his souls would stand forever.

As you recite those lines from Kangaroo,
I know him in the surf’s eternal roar.
And now we kneel beside this tidal pool
fringed with Neptune’s necklace
and anemones, on a rock shelf
stretching into the Pacific beyond Thirroul,
I see his hands, like ours—
plunging in for new flowers.


What She Wore


So bare, the sea and beach, I dare undo
my blue sarong, unfasten my bikini,
enter the water, dive beneath a wave,
then rise out of the foam like they say Love did,
except for this—what comes from out of nowhere—
a kaleidoscope of butterflies, black spotted!

They settle on my softest parts and sip me,
sweet syrup of the flecked-white sea, my wheaten
hair curls with the damp, and so they take me
for a stalk of salt.

Love comes on the littoral,
where water breaks to white and ever runs,
and Love comes clothed in loveliest butterfly garment,
open and bright, and holding her butterfly tongues.


Under the Sun


Taking an hour from time-and-again

I offer the sun the gold of my skin.

Brushed by a breeze of couldn’t-care-less

I rest my head on my rolled-up dress,

till all of give is shift at my hips

and all of need is salt on my lips

and all of time is the tidal span

and all I am,

an impression in sand.