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,

Quivering blades of kelp, fin
like salmon in a sudden surge
of current, scattering moonlight,
fingers of quicksilver
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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