At the shiny 8am traffic island,
two freshly employed and eager
young triangular flamingoes arrive
pressed between hardboard, balloons
on their backs announcing deals of the day.
At 5pm, they stuff pale clipped wings
back into hooded jackets and wade
away through pollutant traffic haze,
deflated balloons bobbing, filtering
disappointment through turned down beaks.
Yesterday, I made notched cotton reel
and candle tanks and tied on each
a little waxy sack.
In awe of their extreme anger
I knew from the first, I’d use the wasps,
that’s why I hid them in a drawer
with pens, spells and assorted rubber bands.
Tonight I let them out.
On charge, without goodbyes, the yellowjackets boarded, driving past my face,
the last August light.
Flies and bears would
never do. Badgers are all used up…
Yes, it is high time for those
wood chewing, stripy jacks with
their dripping oviposters
taking away our anxiety, etched yellow, in their little waxy sacks.
Ten fingers strive to exercise a mundane task,
enslaved by hands, their jealous masters, clasping fast
till aching knuckles buckle to the bracelet of the day.
You’d guess they’d ask (above the crack of whip) how so
that they who long to dance, are pinioned tight and must
suspend their joy for subsistence, impinged by stress.
But never did these fingers speak; suffice to know
how noble words and careful deeds and soulful breath
held checked, cut in to scintillate with dazzling display.
D ad told his aviation stories
E very time we met. It
M eant I knew them – sort of. His pride and joy –
E ach became grounded, one by one,
N o longer airworthy…
T il, getting my bearings, I turned a key
I n my voice and imagination,
A nd Flight Lieutenant Dean and I, we learned to fly together.
Toes, waist, chest, chin, then swallowed by the sea,
I’m a mermaid, brought up on ear popping sandstone rock,
sent to salsa through a musical element not our own,
where fish may do-si-do through lace of flimsy lungs.
Dive with me heartlong through musical wave ranges,
sparking the excitement of a gazillion castanets.
Let me tantalise you with Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
while jealous Eurybia pirouettes by us in the sea.
Now we’ll reach below the surface for deeper ranges,
and I’ll show you how to roll the waves and rock
in ecstatic freedom, with fine, uninhibited lungs,
until you exclaim, and claim the water as your own.
Then you and I can find a soundscape of our own,
a balletic collaboration, moving beyond castanets,
to a place where dolphins commune and human lungs
split into feather gills, fleet and sexy for the sea;
where we will meet our thermal origins, ready to rock,
and pause to play great fossil pipes at unheard ranges.
When we have absorbed those harmonic underwater ranges,
and sea beard grows between teeth not quite our own;
when we have become our ancestors, and belong to the rock;
somewhere above us still will play those spangled castanets,
and as you lay yourself on my shelf beneath the sea,
so the dance of our bodies will return us up with new lungs.
First breath, as we surface, oxygen thrust into salty lungs;
First cry, as we emerge, sound splintering mountain ranges;
First swim, as we splash, amazed, to the music of the sea;
sent to salsa through an element not our own,
accompanied by the clap of Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
we’ll reach a place where water drums roar on sandstone rock.
We’ll help each other up, upon the drums of sandstone rock,
and, beating chests, exalted in our triumph, fill our lungs
with air, sea below us clapping – a gazillion castanets,
we’ll sing of life and rock and roll and mountain ranges,
and know the music of the earth, which we can never own,
but that we clambered up to dance to, from the sea.
From our hold upon this rock, the clapping of castanets
and our own song, belted with the mighty power of human lungs,
rings out across mountain ranges, and to the bottom of the sea.