Soundings

Fish inhabit the muzzles of the guns,

corals encroach and in the surrounding sands

garden eels like spotted, shy umbrella handles

weave up and down in the dappled undertow.

Below deck the octopus considers

with human eyes and high round forehead

the careless war’s drowned riches

while offering affectionate tentacular embraces

to certain tasty morsels in the dark.

In the surgery fish flick fussily

over operating tables where sponges dwell

and warty skulkers hide in corroded boxes

of kidney bowls and crusted scalpels.

In the drug cupboards lobsters lurk,

performing careful autopsies on distant cousins.

Small crabs sift the evidence once more,

and everywhere a drifting soup of life

is pumped through delicate fringed syphons ceaselessly.

Sharks pass through on their rounds,

grey custodians of the fighting decks,

while in and out of portholes fly

the legion single-thinking shoals in silver panics.

On the bridge, fish made up like minstrels

for old fashioned summer pier end shows await

their tiny hygenists, who fly

into gaping mouth and out through gill

with professional speed.

The siren shells that sang the ships to sleep

are crumbling; lost certainties

are overgrown with corals.

That fine balance of community

reminds this body that it’s no unity;

ancient recollections stir

those divers rising up to mind.

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