'Sea Level' by A. Frances Johnson | States of Poetry Vic - Series One

You can't see water beyond the highway hoardings, but you are told Jesus walked on it. This
is your best clue. Dinner settings, security doors, Viagra and tractor parts flash past like
signed miracles.

But you feel something pull, not daintily at your sleeve, but with tidal will,
a blood rush of stark equations of space and gravity you cannot hope to solve.

When you get there, sea fills out the world beyond the wildest hopes
of plumbers and drinking fountains, the dramatic imaginings of poets. Stop there.

The salt order threatens but that is what you wanted, that genius rise and fall,
its white-noised repeat; the fierce marine gull as priest, chanting agitprop.

Why is it that only solid things insist as civilisation?
All architectures house a vacuum, await the pourer, the pouring in.

Whether this is ocean or something molten, earth, an infill of words – you must decide. Swimming against the tide no longer helps; new speech is not achieved by drowning.

You've learnt the lessons of containment: skyscrapers and houses, banks and zoos.
In the city, people press their hands against glass and feel the pulsing tremor of curtain walls.

You are like them; this is part and parcel of your day job, listening to life moving through encryption. Knowing that, in the end, sea ice will melt all your resolutions.

On the way back from the coast you notice cavernous shops selling light fittings,
acres of lights, a confusion of Bethlehems.

In the distance the city skyline glows with penthoused unbelief.
You shift in closer now, to solidity. You have come back – strong, certain as tides.

 

A. Frances Johnson

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.