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  • Coogee
  • Stephen Edgar (bio)

The sloping concourse bends around the beach, Flanked by a row of golden globes on poles Which seem to leach All other colours out of nine o'clock's Submission to the ordinance of dark. Against what must be rocks At the blind limit of this yellow arc What must be ocean rolls,

If it were visible. One orange beacon, Blurred by some porous thickening of air, Can only weaken On Dolphins Point and slowly sink from view As you draw near. Beside you as you pass, A solemn retinue Of seagulls observes silence on the grass, Under the dull gold glare,

Correctly marshalled and in uniform. By way of contrast, milling on the sand, A separate swarm Of gulls obeys a separate motivation, Shifting and standing, turn and turn about, As in some installation, Following steps the artist has laid out And under his command.

The only figures still to claim the beach, A couple and their capering child advance. And when they reach The avian artwork—pandemonium As gulls peel back, fly up, and reel apart, Then gradually come To rest, incorporating in their art Disruption worked by chance. [End Page 161]

As though to prove this tour de force no fluke, The wind finds a black plastic sheet and flips It up to spook Their reassembled pattern. It spins past And through their panicked order as they rise And scream, raucous, aghast, Above the yellowed sand into the sky's Implacable eclipse.

The east looms heaven-high, black and horrific, A cloud of nothingness that holds no trace Of the Pacific, A maw that tells the sheer end of the world Columbus feared, in which those gulls are buoyed, And some few whitely curled Waves break, like forces bursting from the void, Creating time and space.

Stephen Edgar

Stephen Edgar lives in Sydney. He has published six collections of poetry, the most recent being Other Summers (Black Pepper, 2006). He is the recipient of the Grace Leven Poetry Prize, the Australian Book Review Poetry Prize, and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal.