Monday, February 08, 2010

Drowning Sestina

A fogbank swallows the nail-paring
moon. Seagulls line the frosty wires
shifting from webbed orange foot to foot.

The path is muddied by the many feet
that came and went from the riverbank.
They dragged the water with tight-woven webs
and finally went away, despairing.
The body was trapped in a tangle of wire
beneath the outwash from Sullivan's Gulch.

Other search teams had gone up the gully
scanning for clues, every square foot
under the menacing hum of the light-rail wires
and the blank earth stare of the steep banks.
Meanwhile the fence crew was repairing
the hole that was slashed in the steel web.

No-one saw the gap in last year's cobwebs
or the smear where someone skidded on gull-
droppings. The plain trace of an uneven pair
of shoes; the drag of a limping foot.
That's where he came down the bank
sliding and clutching at the fence-wire.

He'd had money he tried to wire
not trusting to transfer it over the web
but somehow it never arrived at the bank.
He couldn't guess how he'd been gulled
but it cut the ground from under his feet—
cash unexpectedly disappearing.

A shock for which he'd not been preparing
like grabbing onto a live wire!
He shook all over, head to foot
feeling the same as a fly in a spiderweb
or rat staring into a snake's open gullet,
trembling at the thought of the bank.

Unexpected curve-ball, tricky bank-
shot: really there's no point comparing
this disaster to some game-play. The poor gull
thought of suicide by coat-hanger wire
but chose to drown in the oil-webbed
waters that churn at the bridge footings.

Now the gulls watch with unsparing
bright eyes as the web of submerged wire
bobs at the bank, exposing a foot.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside


Princess Haiku said...

Moving and beautifully written.

Andy Sewina said...

Intense reporting, nicely done, you've got me interested in the sestina form, all of a sudden.