The White Road



The White Road
by Joanna Streetly
Winner of the More Than Just Mud Poetry Contest
Westerly News

I cannot write the silence,
the sharpsmooth surface of
liquid, reflecting night
beneath me, slicing away into
unconcealed darkness, until
Mount Colnett reaches up skywards
etching the breathing back of a whale
against pale stars.

The tide is swimming me
home, a giant turtle, on whose
back I ride the stillness
sinking my paddle into
the white roadway of
autumn equinox full moon.

Far across the channel
the waterfall throws
sweet rainwater into salt
a muted pour, amplified
in the warm glass night.

I ride the edge,
the dark shadow of forest
looms, frightens me,
while the open plate
of moonlight
fills me up,
singing.

Quivering blades of kelp, fin
like salmon in a sudden surge
of current, scattering moonlight,
fingers of quicksilver
skittering
helter-skelter.
Mercury spilt.

Elsewhere, silken water palms
the unseen eelgrass.
Silence, so round and full, is
slapped into fragments
by the screech of a heron,
waak! waak! on and on
broadcasting my human
transgression to all: Beware
of danger.

A flock of mew gulls
takes heed, rises, in a flight of dark
shapes, swooping low
like bats, anxious to land again,
to rest, if only briefly, on
soft grey mudflat,
before it is lost
to the incoming tide.

I paddle on, that same tide
swimming me home.

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