Mary Cresswell


Drag your canoe high up on the beach.
Shift all the stars in to fringes of sky.
The stars in drag, fringes high on the canoe,
shift sky up to all of your beach.

The stars talk back and drown us in stares.
This is the last chance, if you are counting.
Chance the stars, and if you drown in counting,
the last stares are back. This talk is us.

Sea-snakes peer hungrily into my mask.
Water glows so green a new moon is rising.
New sea is rising, so my moon glows into
a peer-green mask. Water snakes hungrily.

So, moon! Is this the last sky? Is counting
into the stars back? You drag new green water
high on the beach and drown in talk.

If all of us are stars, stares shift —
peer into a rising chance! The mask glows.
Your canoe snakes hungrily up my sea fringes.


because a dispassionate centre is impossible in
an ellipse or an oval

because you will hear me and know while I can
still speak two parts can make a whole when
you shout down the clichés stormy petrels flock
together for safety birds eggs sometimes crack
but only the forgotten few that flew

because a double crown on the scalp will be a
siamese twin in all but skin eyes which need
both for focus desiccant made meaningless by
one more ad for moisturizer one more body part
that needs refreshment

because the point is not the points nor the pencil
stretching the string between two pins the oval
is not a beating heart forever two essential foci
two points coincident but never free of each other

because it is never the pewter jade and jumbled
waves beating on rocks beating the tang of
seaweeds into the afternoon breeze that pushes
our laughter to the foot of the mountain

because following rules for the proof gives us
only qed never the end


hanging offense
                balancing act
                               heightened awareness
                suspended judgement
                               hauling ass

fallen arches
                ringing phrases
                               (sinking heart
                                                             floating kidney
                running head)

hanging fire
                lowering skies
                               dangling clauses
                               dependent children
                standing orders

slipping standards
sliding scales
                               raising hell
                dashing white sergeants                               pending decision

ringing tones
shifting sands
                moving stories
                sitting ducks

hung jury

Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast. Her third book, Trace Fossils, was published in 2011.
For more info, see: www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Cresswell, Mary.
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