DAEL ALLISON

Tasmania: Extinction Keening

 

West from India the granite swell
sloughs through sea-wrack
and off slick backs of seals

 

to broach this coast with a
slap and clattering of kelp.
Hunched against the ocean,

 

listing on another dreaming, our
hut leans into fretty layered midden,
shell-on-shell, another time

 

still sung in word and memory,
silt-bound and fused in sand. Grey
sea, sucked back through green-black

 

orifice, sliding deep down throat
of shell, is held at bay. Bleached
bull-kelp antlers big as walrus

 

bones stand guard; the barrow
beached and cached with shell and
shattered quartz, the monarchs

 

dead; shadow woman, tiger, saw-tooth
lake extinct, dragged down by sea wolves.
Rattling shell and stone chant battle

 

tales, off the soughing sea the mourning
western wind howls echoes of the dirge.
Along the shore a stilted keening bird

 

cries eternal ululation. Its fragile
skittering sand tracks write
ephemeral haiku.