For Ceto will return them to us

For, when this world
was baked in brine,
that time
we cracked open like barley, and
They offered us over
into sea.

Now, years later, we remain
busy growing our spines back
up against the satchel of our skin.

For along the clifftop we now watch
the mansions crumble and tip
bashing their posh brains out on the rocks
scattering their flotsam as entrails
through the surf, riding it
like an oracle.

For we cannot forget the way
those houses dug their roots in,
all glass-sharp and Midas,
and bricked out the Sun.

For we discovered it's better
to be the vector, and not the victim
(as they called us)

For today, we have finally witnessed
our common law
become mosquito-borne.

For, here in Cove of Old Caravan,
the sea is still our saline drip.

For we have begun to hum,
little by little, like a jump-rope jig
Tragedy/farce, tragedy/farce
look at them now
the blood collar class.

For we have the memory
of a stone oven, and hands
shaped like a carnival queen’s.

For, without noticing it, we
have become the repository
for every last breeding pair of each
salt-stained seabird that still lives.

For we must learn to treat this all
as an act of whaling
Us, with our bellyfuls of uncut rope
Unwinding our spears
into the perfect enemy blue

Until they reach the loosened
seams of deep time, and
scrape along liquidated city streets
and hook onto our trench-deep kin
their wet and milky mouths

tugging them
as lanterns, all strung akimbo
up towards our bright white sun
into our unkempt, marram grassy rooms.

For we must learn to lay
them out, one by one, stretching
their silken clothes flat to dry.

For in their perfect putrid states they
have become translucent and supple,
and listen, how their soft bellies
blunt the sound of gulls.

For us — for each of us remaining — they
will bear up a barnacled heart
Shaped dark like varicosed guilt
And shaped whole, our
yolk warm plunder.

Catherine Trundle is a writer, mother and anthropologist, based in Wellington. She writes flash fiction, poetry and ethnography, and experiments with unpicking the boundaries between academic and creative genres. Recent works have appeared in Landfall, Not Very Quiet, Poetry Shelf, Plumwood Mountain and Flash Frontier.