A Journal of poetry and kindred prose

Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is a science editor by trade and has published poems in journals in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

She’s co-author of Millionaire’s Shortbread (University of Otago, 2003); her book Trace Fossils is due out late in 2007.

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The rhyme for silence is an orange sky
not the red that sends the shepherds spare
or the old-wrought gold of time and circumstance.

I always heard it in the growing dusk,
when the ginger cat became invisible
and in his witless bliss, tracked down rustles
unpounced and helpless as they crossed his path.

It lurked where the long bronze carex arched above
his favourite dark and hidden place, his tunnel
carpeted in sparrow feathers.

I heard it when the tide was at its tightest,
the equinox, the day the sea stretched out,
scraped thin and careful as a painful breath

when the air balanced on the horizon
its glaring centre settling till we dared
to look and it could slip its fulcrum, dragging
an emerald drop of mercury with it
into the sea. Sometimes there was an echo.

The ginger cat streaked past me, leaping like
a dolphin across the dunes. Long lines of
spinifex still shake with his afterimage,
his song of triumph.


Virgin of the Rocks

That morning opened flat and still.
It’ll be a scorcher, they said.

We left behind our stuffy room
sticky glasses, crumpled sheets, clothes
strewn across the floor.

We crunched across red-fringed finery
soft greenstone beads and Victoria’s
Secret pink and coral, gold on gold.
Bull kelp holdfasts dragged over the rocks
black leather stipes among red feathers,
tired slappers turned tough in the salt air.

We sat on the rocks, studying
ourselves in the unruffled sea.

Strips of current creased the surface
in front of me, slid back and forth
to supplement each other.

A frenzy of mullet foamed along
the coast, spilling down the shore,
a strip of chaos, rolling rampant,
a shining sea serpent rising
to bury its head in my lap.