[Robert Adamson's The Goldfinches of Baghdad, Flood, 2006]
Humidity envelops my boat, black mould
embellishes its trim. There are mullet-gut stains
on the seats. Tides flood in across the mudflats
and small black crabs play their fiddle-claw
with a feeble left bow, day in, night out.
My hand swoops to catch a lure.
Talons pierce scales and a heart.
We grasp the core only gradually
of each other’s compressed midnights —
black roses flowering in sandy-eyed dawns,
memories stowed to starboard, where a
brahminy’s wings catch first light.
How did we manage it, sailing
on — weathering
leagues of years? We’re a far cry now from
beating wings and arched poetic myths:
the swell’s escalator takes us up over the top
of the world into white crests and gull-squawk.
Now there are fields of light to relinquish
and dolphin fish skittering around
markers, slicing apart an oily sea.
Off Barrenjoey, the kite hits thermals,
then lifts into a triple rainbow stained with
yellowtail blood and slime. Its beaked head fits over
my face, sea-spray stings my eyes. In the haze
beyond tiredness, its wings cut through
an atmosphere thick with salt
and the glint of fish scales.