Tide, 2022

Kathryn Goldie

Seagulls float backwards on the current
Whimbrels hunt on the sandbar in dips left by estuary stingrays
Raptors arc overhead – now an osprey, later a sea eagle.
The wind tickles the casuarinas, or do the she-oaks reach for the breeze?
We laugh, drinking G&Ts on the deck.
Happiness muddled with finger limes, mint and berries
Light on the blue waves
Each sunset more glorious than the last.
The city’s fragments of sky, carved out by high-rise and terraces,
Long behind us.
Memories of smoke haze, traffic and nearby sirens drop
Like our blood pressure.
Soothed, calm, we watch the water, blue tranquillity.

Until the rain.
Until upriver’s overflow mounts the bank and threatens to join us, no
welcome extended.
With sandbars and birds disappeared,
We monitor tides by word of mouth, news bulletin, app – the height of the
bricks on our wall.
Too late to leave, we fill plastic bottles with clean water,
Pack bags too big for a rescue boat,
Wonder how to get the dog onto the roof.

We turn our backs on the waters
Face distant high ground until the app tells us
To check the rude swiftness of the tide’s ascent.
We hide from the river, cannot bear to watch
The churn, the mud, the silt, the logs, the unprecedented, the it’s-neverbeen-
Breaths shallow, we spray the spiders that rise ahead of the water.
Our glasses, sticky with dregs of G&T, wait in the sink,
For the drains to clear, the river to fall, the blue to return.