Poetry

Cape York

When you arrive at the tip of the Cape, the coast

opens its arms and you’re split into the rivulets 

left by an outgoing tide, your translucent threads 

untangling into a turquoise open, 

where a jungle inflates into gentle mountains,

your sight unrolling along the coast’s milky arc, then swerving 

through the sand’s grooved ribbons to pool 

in paper-deep lakes, for the wind to come, 

blustering and eager, upturning the water 

to expose thousands of thrashing feet.

You’re swept along the curve until its thin, 

cream line finally vanishes beneath a headland’s rolling limb, 

leaving your gaze to float towards the ridge, which slides from the field’s bright skin

into a greyness flecked with lime, silhouette of a dream-form, 

a dark snake full with a feed, resting her head 

near the fold of ocean into sky, this deepest signal 

of the moment’s breadth, the way you step into it

as it comes soaring back, soaring over the mast 

of the yacht rocking imperceptibly in the bay,

as it floods your nerves and subsumes them within its salty light,

as it builds inside you, bubbling amongst the love for those 

who have walked on while you’ve stopped to watch,

who have become tiny, black scratches in that immensity of sand and cream-blue firmament,

have drawn you into the outside and laughed with you there,

have left you exposed, like a hermit without

his shell, to certain dangers, but also to the spaces 

in webs of codes, into which you might nestle, if only for a moment,

to relish the surge of current as it fills you,

as it gathers infinite space and its mad, frictive operas

and compresses them into a race up the sand’s long cable 

which stuns you with a stiff chord, leaves you rattled.

But the mangroves are waiting patiently,

the foreground’s sprouted with their gnarled snorkels,

as if huge, woody lungs lay breathing beneath –

what place finds you? what place knows?

There’s a fragile bone that runs thin as a hair around the bend

and grows steadily into the skeleton of all that is happening, 

despite that never, the what might never be

because of the opaque crust of a body, of its life and

how it can float slightly, let you peer briefly beneath,

but how it grows heavier as the world stretches apart,

when you walk towards her with desire splitting your chest,

when you feel the impending closeness, of that choir, of matter unfolding,

memory’s vast bass riddling with tropical wind,

with forests of lives, how could you have known this?

how could you have known? 

Griffith Review