A tide washed her to his solitary island,
left her intact on its wet stones.
Morning uncovered her in first daylight.
He contemplated her from all sides, appraised.
Her eyes were slightly open. He held his breath,
edged icy eyelids back: eyes brown, black-shadowed,
earth-warm amber turned to cold;
red hair - she must have been a whip-tongued scold in life.
She dressed for her final act in a denim jacket,
lumberjack shirt, warm amber to match the eyes,
navy jeans plastered to thighs by sea water;
her skin so cold. Quiet: nothing stirred: wave, wind or bird.
He spent hours with her in night's privacy,
her cold beauty a wonder to his trembling hands,
her cold flanks smooth like sea-worn stones,
her mounds, her hollows, burning marvels.
In morning's indifferent newness he carried her back;
water sidled in, lifted her up, took her out.
He dried her clothes - sour smell of steam from his range -
folded and smoothed them, shoved them under his bed.
That night he drank, remembered mounds, hollows,
fingered her clothes, fumbled inside her jeans,
thought of her appearing out of water, naked,
dripping salt, warm, to perch on his lap.
He packed her clothes into his smouldering range,
cremated them one by one - a night of stoking, poking -
felt in hot ashes for zips, buttons,
stumbled in unforgiving day to his solitary beach
to fling them into suffocating water,
pressed fists against his island's wet stones
to cool a violent pain from her burning zips,
scalding buttons, gold and silver of her estate.
Published, 2000, in Snakeskin, February issue.