Stalkers

by Cornelia Rohde

The heron’s keen beak and
the bone-fisherman’s rod poise
like divers before a plunge.
Their feet lift without a ripple,
as stealthily as a bidder raises a finger.
Eager eyes sharply scan
fleet shadows in the draining tide.

The sportsman’s quick arm
flings his fly in a taut arc.
A silvery flash,
translucent as moonlight,
snaps the feathery barb,
fiercely twists, surges,
is caught by the lure.

Legs braced, arms taut, the hunter
pits his wits in pursuit,
steadily reels, yields,
pulls with a sure grip.
Calmly triumphant,
he admires his sleek catch,
wrenches the hook from her mouth,
watches her streak away,
then resumes his slow slide
through the receding tide.

Close by, the heron swoops,
grabbing her prey
as swiftly as a comet flashes,
but she follows no rule
of catch and release.
Her dinner drops
head first down her throat,

bulges and wiggles
along the slender, dark tunnel
of her neck. She wastes
no time savoring her skill.
Her hungry clock set to the tides,
she must snare more
before the flats lie dry.

Fjord

by Elizabeth Trew

Fjord came from a carving of ice
inching slowly down valley
bedrock stoppers her mouth

her long limpid body of water
mingles glacier melt, inlet sea
bounded by mountains

her horizon sheers high as vision plumbs deep
soft body brooding shattered rock
scarred peaks, rolling hills

she ruffles her spectrum of colours
floats in her glass shifts of silver
grey green gold blue purple black

shuffles down her root girdle
scours her caves clutching at sea-salt
river-fat

lies valley bound
tempered and still
deeper than the sea outside

Lagoon

by Elizabeth Trew

Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.
                                 Seamus Heaney, Lovers on Aran

 
The land rises and falls
battered by the hungry Atlantic
that mouths roughly along her shore.

Little by little the land gathers her strength.
Stepping into the waves she places her arm
into the sea to shield his blows.

Little by little her arm lengthens across his path.
He turns, flows softly into her channel,
her warm body yields to his gentle waves.

Land and sea join in the long afternoon.
She opens an eye, becomes a lagoon.

Drummer at the sea

by Elizabeth Trew

He travels across boundaries
drumming his journey
to sit at the foot of Africa
washed by the sea;

facing its waters he sings
to his drum, incoming waves
salting dark skin;
beating the taut drum he roars

to a bloodied memory,
its rhythm potent, outlandish
as his crazed colourful shirt while people
In space suits behind him

stroll by blank as mirrors
absorbing the sound, while the sea
open and vast
washes its foot, listens too.

Baleen

by Lise Day

Feathery, comb-like
filters of plankton and krill
harvested in blubber and blood
hacked from the jaws of whales
flayed till palely naked
transported in mucky holds
of ships bucketed on arctic seas
steeped in chemical baths
then inserted in corsets
narrow slits of silk and lace
to nestle intimate
in bosoms and clinched waists
of fine ladies of fashion.

Surf-Spirits

by Cornelia Rohde

My footprints follow me
along the gleaming margin
of the water’s edge,
where stick-legged Sanderlings,
grey-backed, snowy-bosomed,
play tireless tag with the sea.
When I walk close, these small birds
spook ahead to flirt with ocean’s rhythm.
I watch their sprightly spirits
chase the wake of waves
sucked back to bare wet sand.
Staccato bills gobble crabs and worms
stirred in dragging grains.                 .
 
I’m baffled how they know
just when to turn and run
before incoming scroll of water
buoys them off their feet;
and how, tuned to avian signal,
they rise as one, wheel
across blue depths and vanish,
leaving cross-stitches of their tracks
in patterns on the shoreline,
where the abiding tide sweeps away
all traces of their marks and mine,
joining us to the sea without intent.
 

Walking on a beach without a dog

by Pam Newham

The first time, I thought, would be the worst.
The pewter sea lay heavy as sluggish waves
folded and unfolded over cold bland sand.
I stood and watched the others:
sort out scolding seagulls
roll in ripe seal remains
wrestle with kelp-strands.

But months later when a light south-easter
whisked the waves and thirty four degrees
filled the beach, I watched them again:
tumble tennis balls through the surf
lift legs against bright beach bags
race together in disorderly packs
and, above the waves,
a faint voice calling,
come back.

Fragments from a Cottage by the Sea

by Annette Snyckers

1.

Suspended from the roof beams
in the children’s bedroom,
hangs a fairy made of felt and feathers,
a remnant of halcyon holidays long past.
With the house closed up,
the fairy flies through dark days,
her bell’s a little rusted.
Every time I come, I dust her off.
She scares the little ones now.
Neither do they like
the sea horse on the curtains.

2.

There in the basin
I bathed you both
as new-born babies.
I remember how
your tiny, big-bellied bodies
bobbed in the familiar warmth,
how your mute eyes spoke
midnight blue messages,
holding tight to my gaze.

3.

In a cupboard in the cellar,
invaded by more than mould,
is a box of fishing tackle all a-jumble,
twisted hooks and sinkers, trapped memories
of night-fishing expeditions
by the young boys of this house.
Late the lamp returned over the dune,
brought into the kitchen
where, by its steady light,
they slaughtered and consumed
the freshly baked bread .

4.

Digging in a drawer
for thumb tacks and the scissors,
I find puzzle pieces, shells,
self-made cards for Christmas,
drawings of bunnies with long ears,
a witch upon her broom.
On the first morning of the new millennium,
you both climbed into bed with me.
Outside the sea lay silver
so we pretended it was a ship –

all of us so unprepared
for the rough passage ahead.

Winter Holiday

by Lise Day

The cottage takes off its summer garb
of drying towels, wind surfer sails
slung carelessly at open doors and windows.
Turns its back to the sun, puts on its winter look.

We rise late
when the sunbird circus starts
in the dawn-lit aloes, tiny acrobats
hanging on each nectared trumpet.

A creeping tide pushes our solitary canoe
to the river mouth, the water’s dark
with lazy swirls, deeply matted sedge.
Six flamingos wrapped in the noon haze
stand, peg-legged, staring out to sea.

The evening floods the river silver
we light the fire, pour the wine, play
childhood games, pick up sticks and scrabble
as the moon drags the water out
leaving the sand spit cold and bare.