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SARAH DAY

Stranger

I
So much like a scene from any tawdry police show
it's hard to take seriously: ambulance backed up to the dune path,
the police van, men in uniform, a couple of young women –
pony tails and monkey suits – the word Forensics blocked
in semi-circle across their shoulders, hands in pockets or on hips,
looking like those who maintain the roads at coffee time, relaxed,
on the job, passing the time of day.
Tucked away behind the vans, half out of the frame, just enough
to inspire some mystery, the foot of a stretcher.
Only when beach-goers approach, does the nonchalance
tighten, postures still on casual though, indicating with elbow,
an alternate route to the beach.

II
As skies darken over the sea, colours of clothing come to light
on the grey, vacant beach, as if outlined, like the shouts and laughter of children.
You wonder if the tide will rise high enough for the sea to meet the creek,
ushering bore waves one by one upstream against the flow, along the brackish
surface. One of the children walks away from the water, spooked by a coiled snake
blanching beneath the surface. The adults cannot let go of the scene
in the car-park; curiosity or apprehension draws them in a huddle.
The horizon is unfailingly straight. A Southerly lays bare pipis, cones
and Chinese fingernails; rustles the lupins in the dunes like cicadas.
At the end of the day, an image persists: of the thin snake whitening on the creek bed,
and the expressions on the faces of the emergency officers.
You wonder if you feel too much, or too little, for the death of strangers.