Friday, September 18, 2009

Washed up

Aimless in the antipodes
swam the untanned Englishman,
temporarily abandoned
by a late returning bride,
washed up on the empty beach,
naked but for a seaweed wrack
wrapped around his pallid thighs,
garnered from the petticoats
of the deceptive turning tide.

Civilisation lurks behind the dunes,
waiting to reclaim the stray,
lately unemployed émigré.
The alternative is freedom,
generated by inaction
and the promise of new tunes
to play or unforseen events
that prey upon the stranger
in a dry and uncongenial land.

Maybe near this very spot,
Flinders said to Bongaree,
'best you go and speak to your kind,
while I observe from behind this tree'.
The Lieutenant's hat was spied
and demanded by the indigenes.
Refusal prompted a single spear,
and Mathew returned a musket shot
after several misfires, on bended knee.

What dangerous possibility
attended naked Odysseus
as he spied upon the princess
washing her dirty linen; she
likely hoping for some amour
but finding a middle-aged
ragamuffin on the shore, he
too thirsty and tired for love,
a king became a supplicant.

But our pale man well breakfasted,
with wife at work and children taken
from their bed to a nearby school,
is in a wayward state of mind,
and walking down the beach
is surprised to find his Nausicaa,
sprawled out in scanty bathing suit,
posing the choice of turning back
or explaining his garb of briny wrack.

No bright-eyed goddess had whispered
that morning in her ear, warning
of her unreadiness to wed,
just hormones and the radio
with Streisand's Rose blooming in her head.
Nor did Athena glamorise
the balding stranger's age or looks,
but left him like a fool transfixed
'twixt dire straits and the siren's hooks.

Some conversation did ensue,
between forty two and turned sixteen,
mainly about her love of ten pin bowls,
and why he had no inkling of
how to pitch or the proper soles
of shoes that he would have to wear,
if he were to succeed at bowling
in the American hall, built nearby
to entertain MacArthur's men of war.

It seems what gods there might have been
would brook no union, forced or not,
between the virgin bowling queen
and her suitor dressed in brackish thong.
No feast and stories by the fire,
or return to Ithaca would be his lot,
but ignominious withdrawal along
the beach to find his shorts and towel.

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