I lay on my back beneath her underside,
wings fanning my fear like
six-pack rings around my wrists.
I wonder if she’d let me in, I wondered,
let me hide my sunburn. Would it
be the same in there, all those
pull-down charts where trees jut upwards
like arrows, rows upon
the FTSE index? I saw them
packing their men
like sardines in tin
dismounting the ocean’s surface
to the white halls beneath.
sleep against their notepads etched
with fly swat smears,
reach the nadir of
the exclamation dot,
and dream in all their
How deep to dive to reach her tears?
them marching their men off to war,
16 types of endangered species. I saw
them grab branches with their tomahawk hands,
just to pull themselves ashore.
It’s OK, I’m use to beatings, she said.
I found her again like a
stray dog at the animal shelter. Maybe
it’s warm for January. I check
the mercury and pull
my jacket round her
just in case.
If tears were bullets, maybe
I could find a way
the words I need
to keep you safe.
I want to write about your sadness,
but my fingers strike
the depths of their feeding tubes
like concrete. There’s a shadow
On the water like a stain
and a stack
of paperwork to prove
you don’t exist. I turn
around and you don’t, and here’s me
you’ve just gone back for more.
Fair Hera, with your ragged arms,
I don’t know how to reach your grief.
Did it pall beneath
the earth’s curtain,
faint soul under
the ocean’s feet?
Was it sucked inside the man-womb
where developers decorate the
brown-paper room with shards of clean bone
and boughs that link arms,
storms that have quelled, wings
that have long ceased to beat?
They’re counting up
the climate change refugees now,
when even all the fires from
the burning palm oil plantations
have failed to smoke you out.
The earth quiet like an ice cap, except for
the white bear-child
still searching like an albatross
for safety in
its mother’s teat.
Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Verse News, Cleaver magazine, Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.