Begin with the quotidian selection
of a series of loosely connected objects
threaded by a man’s perambulation
along a beach in Redcliffe.
Late afternoon in June, deserted—
even the sea has retreated into itself.
One half of an empty bivalve still tufted
with byssus, the inner nacre fresh with loss.
This shell does not sound like the sea—
it is too small
or the man’s ear is too big.
He cuts a finger on its edge,
watches the felicitous blood bead.
Oompie bongs line the foreshore. The man imagines
Lt Miller stepping off the boat at Woody Point
admiring the lonely water taps, the lack of mosquitoes
& Aborigines, but most of all the solid jetty
where fishermen sit, collecting death
by the bucket.
On the menu: Greek words, mostly. The man selects
an enigmatic dish garnished with salt of the earth. For a moment
he is tempted to converse with the young mother with
bags under her eyes waiting among the terra cotta, but remembers
the audience. She takes the warm parcel of butcher’s paper
and string, twitches a nervous smile, and steps out into terra incognita.
She is the signifier of a certain weariness with life, of the babies
other people had, or didn’t have. The fish and chips are excellent.
From the wall the Minotaur surveys his candled domain.
Pensive, the man slays dessert with the smallest fork,
watches crumbs dash themselves in the cream
smeared across the cavernous plate.
The man settles his bill, then takes the rickety gate
into darkness without so much as looking for
a piece of string.