Eating the Reef

Solomon Islands, Uepi

Adrift, pursuing phantoms of lost habitats
we pursue wilderness until it is no more.

I am eating the reef.
At first, it is sweet and expansive –

like meditation, or the rush of oxygen
after holding the breath.

Ocean so blue it is sky and sea at once –
cobalt blues gas the coppers

of midnight snapper,
following courses electric

of bluefin trevally and barracuda;
we submerge and are joyfully lost.

Powder fire of faecal matter
scatters down like talcum

as fish accelerate
and weave the ocean’s current

that silts glorious accretions
of sucker-mouthed worms and corals.

I hang trawler nets of grief and avarice
and fill them with fish.

Quartets of seniors float
in the channel’s shallows like plastic

bottles eddying the pier.
Masks full, they stand and crunch coral –

the newly buoyant flail.
Deeper out, I float

the surfaces of black tip reef sharks
and wish for blood,

or for the lips of giant clams
to swallow us whole.

Kristin Hannaford


Kristin Hannaford is a Queensland writer and poet who often writes about the natural world. She has had four collections of poetry published, the latest is Curio (Walleah Press 2014). Her poems and short fiction are published in a range of Australian and International literary journals.

© 2018