Mission Beach


The hotel sat wild upon the hill,
amongst snakes dripping, paint, down the strangler figs.
We awoke to the croaks of purse-jawed frogs,
then breakfast in the green glow of fan-palms:
coffee, sun-split yoghurt, an ocean’s wink.
Cassowaries, those boneheads, those prehistoric freaks,
padded amongst our rooms, creaky as puppets,
attacking the tourists – fierce despite their fewness –
striding boldly out before the bulb-eyed beasts
of four-wheel drives.
The beach was perfect: just us.
I began to strip, all elbows and daring, and my breasts
flopped out, slightly silly and as blinding as the sand.
My nipples were that pink inside conch shells.
How we rushed into the splash, shedding everything!
We fell nude into the brilliant, cool, illuminated sea
and I have never been so happy.
My body could feel itself.
The wine tapped like adrenalin in my brow, and you,
you were slippery as a dolphin in my arms …
My love,
we didn’t know that it was stinger season –
that my breasts might have been whipped raw,
that your beautiful hairy chest might have floated
bang into a jellied sack of pain.
That you might have had to piss on me.
That your heart could have stopped.
I have never been so happy.
I jumped and wrestled with you,
all the while thinking thankyou, thankyou
though I didn’t believe in god,
only those ancient blue-black birds
quietly loping in the forest above us.

from Look, Clare ! Look! (Bloodaxe, 2005), © Clare Pollard 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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