J0-Ella Sarich
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
End of summer

It's well into evening, long after the midday
crowds withdrew back
into their homes and the dairy
hung its ‘closed’ sign in the window. It's just us
and some straggling
swimmers and a few seagulls. Just a few of us to see
the miracle

of the sea kicking gently against the fabric
of her swaddle, still glistening
from utero, and the sky breaking apart
the clouds carefully to look down. The sea
learning to emulate
the cloud that is her mother’s crown, except
for the kicking. My children don't hesitate
as they are drawn in by the crickets’ hum, like
they are confused by the weight of the air.

A man has come up
from the water. His dog
waits quietly, tied
to driftwood. Has he come after
work, I think? You aren't tempted?
I laugh
and shake my head. Too cold for me.

The land is ambivalent, covered in buildings. I dip
considerate toes into the edges of Her. I dived all the way
to the bottom, my daughter cries. I call
them in. The sun stretches
their shadows almost to the end
of Her, wavering, and I think about how
long it will be before they return to an older sea
with buckets
and change for ice creams in more articulate
fingers and maybe
they won’t even want to dive in until they’ve tried the water first.