Friday, August 25, 2006

our bright expanse

By Adam Gibson

(for Marce)

hair the colour of straw,
I can see him,
paddling hard for a wave
on a loud dazzling day,
the moon nudging Aquarius,
and a four-foot swell
on a Tasman pulse

he was seen in the early hours,
said hello to someone
in the warm pre-dawn
and by then the fingers of sun
would've been rising
over the blonde cliffs
as he went in

and if he would have called,
I'm sure I would have heard,
and if he would have called,
I may have twitched in bed,
but I heard nothing
and I slept like a drunk
and it was a full afternoon
before I heard the news:

he went for a surf and he never came back

these were sweating days,
these were sheet-tossed nights
these were lulled days
caught in the split between
the wax and wane of
the full-moon tides

we hang thinly on the
thread of the coast,
stunned by the sun and
tripped by the cracks in
our bright expanse

I can see him,
paddling hard for a wave,
the year tipping ahead:
and we'll just get through January
I'm saying,
and then we'll get through February,
and then there's Easter,
with its shiny grass
and its antenna evenings
and when the westerly winds
blow like clockwork

it's okay,
the tide always turns,
it renews every day
every week, month and year
and then the king tides of
Christmas arrive,
and everyone comes home,
so hang on, wait a month or two

I can see him
in a pub in Byron Bay,
I can see him
at a primary school
swimming carnival
I can see him
calling my name from a window
above Campbell Parade

these are our small histories
carved in the ocean and
written in graffiti on the walls,
and all we can do is remember
and work towards a different end

and so we paddled out on that
jagged morning
and gathered on our surfboards
and linked arms in a circle
and said see ya later
and huddled closer together,
the picture in the paper the next day
showing a smiling arc in the blue bay
and we knew he would have liked it
and we knew he would have approved

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