The Works of Sara Berkeley, Part 1
The DrowningHe took his stones
Down to the pier at dawn. The waves were in
From Japan, a few ships lingered.
The city sighed and turned, the sky
Crept up from the sea.
He dropped a lines and waited for fish to bite.
His nails throbbed, the hairs of his head
Pulsed at their roots
His blood pushed to be let out.
The sun rose
He thought of the many ways with a smile.
For the weight of a stone he went down
Slow as a feather's fall
Razor shells brushed his wrists
Small fish kissed at last his willing lips
Brushed a pier support with heavy hips
Shoals flashed over head
Close to the old world.
He lay still
The seaweed clung to his brow
Gulls swooped for his bright rings,
Up in the hills
Hawks hung in the warm air
And dreamed of his eyes.
The church was full.
The first sod on shiny wood
Fell with a thud. Inside, cold and dry,
He laughed till he cried.
The last shoe turned in the dirt
And God, all angry and hurt,
Turned on his heel,
Left him his weathered dark
His first taste of earth
And his drowned thoughts.
Lenka, Holding Her SisterThey wore no clothes, they were naked. Which one held
which one back from the brink?
They swayed on the edge, pooled their reflections,
watched their old enemies come down to drink,
sat hugging their elbows.
The world was alight with wildfire
they waited for the report:
eighty per cent containment,
they cried in the street
where Notting Hill goes down to Holland Park,
it was dark and no one saw them.
Once they were littler girls,
their brother, their blue cardigans, their five summer dresses,
low gold evening sun over Saint John's Gardens
shining through the smoke and on the dark wood
of the old hotel; their father loved his girls
though the girls were harder,
their mother dismantled time
and put it in a box with dolls.
Then the vicious years
cut loose like riderless horses
thundering down the dangerous holiday
abreast of the fire that made them say
we will love you till we die.
Full containment. No breaks jumped.
They stood in the dusk throwing water,
ash settled like a silk cloak after,
wrapped itself loosely around them,
made a fine picture:
Lenka, holding her sister.
Eight Months, Fifteen DaysSince we cast off in this fragile craft
to practise the delicate art
of rowing, you have had your hand
at my core, bringing me up
so I sit straight up.
The moon is full;
around the moon a moving blue circle
spirographs a thousand other moons;
you and I are counting.
The shores we left are simply
where scrub land meets the lake,
the ground is soft and ashy,
between the whins, delicate
birdsteps, wild dog tracks;
Indians fish at the edge for cutthroat trout,
they know we can't own the land,
we just walk there.
Your hand stirs. Time is slow here.
We hesitate to go ashore.
The moon is emptying,
you ask for my name again,
with my free hand I unbutton it
in a moment, I lay it down;
you say Look! Look at Orion!
There's his club, his belt, see his two feet?
I can't follow, I think I'm going
somewhere I never told myself about.
Back on dry land
sulphur water springs from the rock
hot and slick to the touch.
We walk apart,
our different rhythms keep us alight,
our common spirit leads us to the tallest rock,
we have spilled our lives from the top of the rock
and watch them fall.