Swimming in the Southern Ocean
I shed everything in the dunes and come to the sea
Wind surrounds me, an angry hive stinging
my skin with the fierce braille of its story.
I step over the lip where the sea tastes the sand
Everything burns with cold. I’ve crossed a border;
beyond my depth even though toes clutch the sand.
The waves slap my chest and drag their weight
I am nothing more than weed-wrapped bone the sea
has finished with, passing it back to the air and earth.
This long, cold beach holds distilled abundance,
Long after I’m back in camp, clothed and fire-warm
the sea’s strange consonants roll in the shells of my ears,
inescapable, underlying everything
Rachael Mead is a South Australian writer and poet. She is the author of three collections of poetry and won Varuna’s Dorothy Hewett Fellowship for Poetry in 2011 and 2015. Her work has been published widely in Australia and internationally and featured in video poems, on radio and in choral compositions.
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