Down here sunlight casts its wavering nets
but we are already caught, the cage full
of quivering humanity, dangling like bait
over depths immaculate in their mystery.
We fling our sight into the blue, seeking
the thickening shadow, that clotting of cobalt
which defibrillates the heart instants before
the torpedo shape even resolves itself out there
beyond the mesh, on the inner face of the mask.
The rumbled cadence of the hookah quickens
as we hang, exhibiting ourselves to the wild.
Stripped of land and way out of our depth,
we cling to the faith that for these swift minutes
caught in this inverted world, we will continue to breathe.
It’s difficult to know what to tell you, what I saved
from that oddly geometric world, the hard blue planes
speared with light, the hollow toll of cage on boat,
those plates of cold sliding between wetsuit and skin.
I can’t tell you much about the pale underbelly, the fin,
the slashed gills or the blowback of shock after the strike.
I can’t remember much about its solidity, the way its skin
seized the shine from the water and swallowed it whole.
Strangely, I can’t really even recall much about the teeth.
But I can tell you about the eye. Its density. Its blackness.
The way she watched us, circling with long, deliberate strokes.
And the only other thing I can say is how it felt to see
that final contrail of silver coins from her tail’s ragged fluke
and in that silence hear my heart, implausibly, still beating.
Rachael Mead is a South Australian writer and poet. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and Picaro Press published her second collection, The Sixth Creek. She was awarded Varuna’s Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship for Poetry in 2011 and again in 2015.