Mer / the waves heave and wash the shore. the boat-men strike, strike: the salt churns, grey-brown faces hide in heads; waves, then only the tops: wet-warm-covered dust
of the dead. it is night. the sea, the sea is laden with the buzz of wings and the cries of men, human men, inhuman men, sighs, cries, dead with dead-eyes. the light drips from the shore. the light drenches the beach: what do they look for? :the ragged top, the craggy shore. Fathoms worth a century of scores, half a turn of the clinched glass, or:
the boy snores: fingers seek and scrape the growling sky. the boy cries: red shirt blue pants shorn head so soft, crushed in; a sponge, a soft dark sponge, a sponge with memories hiding. Sponges scrunched on tinfoil waves, clutching a bag of bombs for home;
home is a map on faces with maps weathered by the sea. the sea that tosses the juice of the land: /the promised land/ with sand sprinkled meaninglessly/ land of the brave land in the clouds land of stars land that shines for me/ unsown with hair and skin next to the mud the mud the mud by the sea the mud washed by the sea for the mud-sown dreams in dark sponge heads to sprinkle and sow and knead and grow in the land in the warm cold land by the cold cold sea… Fathoms worth a century of scores, or:
and then the sea gaped.
/ what does the/ maw of the/ sea / look like?!
where are her teeth?/ where the water glugging in your throat where does it pour in? can you hear them singing?/ is it only BURN is it only BURN tendons ribboned and seasoned with the sea?! Is it BURN is it BURN is it BURN when the LUNGS swell like birth-night BALLOONS giving BIRTH to the sea?! is it RIB RIB CRACK when the ribs crack like the drum that beats like the heart of the sea?! oh my throat, oh my throat, it won’t shut in, it won’t stop swallowing swallowing the sea?! where is the breath, oh where is the breath, where are the triple-whorled-breaths/ I took above the dying sea?!/ oh can you hear them singing, hear them singing? each to each to each to me?// where the rock by the beach where the golden land where the gates where the guards beyond which broken line beyond which broken sky beyond which broken sea??!// can you hear them singing to me??!
Mère / O my son, o my son! O my son under the waves! O my son on the beach:
sunk, sunk within, within the sea! O my son he sinks, he drowns in the sea!
my son by the waves, by the blood, by the sea! O my son, his soul, his triple-whorled bent-branched soul in the sea! O my son, he drowns o my son, he’s drowned won’t you save him Won’t You Save Him WON’T YOU SAVE HIM FROM THE SE-
“Yes we dragged him off the shore, sir, we lay him on the beach and the beach cradled his head, sir, and the waves washed him gently, and // what, sir? which land he calls/
home, sir?// we wish we knew, sir- walking on the beach then suddenly/ there was a tiny broken body gulping the vast vast sea and / we thought, Where is his mother? Where could she be? Then //
the other ones came, sir, wave after wave, nigh endlessly, and they // all drank the sea, sir, they all drank the sea-// and now they rest on the bed with the water above their head, sleeping/ endlessly, endlessly…// their homes rained, bombs, sir, and they ran to the broken sea-//
we think his mother is in the sea, sir,
we think his mother is now the sea.”
Note: This poem is dedicated to Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian child who drowned off the coast of the port city of Bodrum within the broken border of Turkey, while trying to reach by rubber boat the island of Kos within the broken border of Greece, in order to reach by air the broken border of Canada, beyond which he and his family wanted to find a home. Canada was 8,353 km away, and Greece a mere 4 km- about 2,000 fathoms, a century of scores- a ride that should have lasted thirty minutes – or half a turn of the clinched glass. It lasted for an eternity. I defy anyone who has heard Alan’s story to defend the narrow domestic walls we find ourselves imprisoned within, today.
All font size and style differences within the poem have been applied deliberately to indicate tonality.