What did I see or thought I saw
as the slatted sun closed down the beach
and the crescent-sanded shadows reached
and fishermen pulled their hooks from the wave’s jaw?
I saw a man step helplessly off the break,
or perhaps an oystercatcher sewing fish.
I wonder if my breath was a windy wish
held gulped and filtered by flathead and flake.
What did I see, or hope I saw?
I saw a man step silently into the panes
of glass and steel, but who knows if he rose again.
Soon I’ll pick through the lantana’s claw,
but marking the site of a cormorant’s plunge, I stare
at the grey water, until the sandpiper wind steals a blink.
He’s swimming somewhere out there still, I think,
with the strange strokes of a seal, coming up for air.
Damen O'Brien (Queensland)