The Severant

After breakfast, we walked out
and cut the sea loose from the beach.
As we ran back over the first sandhill
to squat in the lee, the rilled ocean
rose up and furled away from us,
flaying out its salt-riffed edges. 

We oppose the system.
We have cut the sea turtle off
from its beach-buried young.
We have enough food for a year.
The clouds have rushed
to the edge of the maps 

and my heart is a thing strange.
We have written down our fears
and mailed them to ourselves.
Soon I will walk into the forest
and cut whole fjords a kilometre deep.
We have reached our extremity;

this, our recension of world.
The great sea has made me a sceptic.
There will be no deaths tonight.
If I wanted to, I could return
to my homeland – I heard that
they’ve all forgiven me.

We are dissolute.
We have amended the world.
As I walk home I unpick the seams
from the footpaths.
Each muscle locomotes my frame.
I wear my suit and walk into the vista city. 

Through the old mine
with its pile of coal like a dead whale.
Past the doctor who repaired my chest.
Past the tailor who sews spines
into standing men as they wait.
What else. Yes, the green rose 

tucked under the lapel of skin.
The scars as smooth as knives.
The sequin mole on my back
that I’ve only heard stories about.
My wrist veins are clipped in place
with silver cufflinks.

My golden nerves shake,
their stitch-ends are shot
and misfire beats as I walk.
The navel is a nameless relic,
the way a sea-snail leaves the earth
and burrows out. 

My latest tattoo, laid out
like a miniature scheme
of inlayed embroidery,
with its darned vinehoops of pea-pods,
horses and tiny blue flowers.
And I carry my heart in my hand, 

with a gold T-bar fob chain
that slips through a vest buttonhole
and even further with an anchor
lodged behind two ribs.
It ticks oxygen and the lub-dub sounds
through its four chambers, 

the hopeless shape of the lumpen thing.
As I walk, each muscle’s stitching
is stressed at the inseam. Tomorrow,
after we wake, we’ll look out
over the remaindered horizon
where sky no longer touches sea. 

It will be hard to decipher, with a world
so weighted on its own certainty.
Now we sleep and interval our breath.
I cross my hands on my chest
as though I’m flying into myself.
Weave me a sheet from the eyelashes of dolphins.

Wrap my heart with filament silk
so fine it could fit into a walnut shell.
The brain sleeps in its breadbox.
As long as I can remember, the ocean
has whispered something, over and over,
time and place a duet like dog and moon. 

I wish we could sleep like two horses,
standing side by side,
eyes lashed for the night.
The candle lights flash the table
and on the wall the calendar
has the cut the world into squares.

Andrew Slattery

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