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sedate the day she died,
the sea as nonchalant
as one avowed to tide
can be, left maudlin slack
& to her own devices.
& somewhere south
a fire is raging,
burn-off or pyre,
its feral flames conspire
to daub the liminal
with slicks of cold chert.
a cormorant bears
his jet-black cross,
the tern will measure
each fatal swoop,
a trawler plods
its net corpse heavy.
& clouds keep time,
each hour compiled
in blank compendia.
the fish do not bite.
my bait sun-cooked
& stale like grand
ideas denied fruition,
like sweetmeat love
left festering for want
of voice or fear of failure,
like palm-warmed gelt
un-spendable on foreign
days. i tie a running hitch
to snare some memory
or a smile, a rein to halt
the pull of keening;
not fit for purpose
my knot unravels,
each unkempt end
reluctant to be joined.
the breeze expounds
her lisping votive
& clouds keep time,
their callous task
unrushed, each careful
hour polished & re-polished
‘til fashioned to a finish.

paul summers is a northumbrian poet recently returned to his native north east england after a failed relationship with central queensland. latest books include union (new & selected) and primitive cartography. a new collection, straya, is forthcoming, due for publication in april 2017.