The edge of this land

Is not the shining granite of home;

That ancient mosaic of mica,

felspar, quartz- impervious.

These cliffs are made of bones.


Built from soft-sinking skeletal dust

Of creatures that trawled warm shallows

And strange depths; molluscs, corals.

Soluble; slowly stripped by endless shoals

Of flicking rain drops, borne on countless storms-

Massing into rivulets that, pushed by time, bore

Secret winding ways into the core.

There, waves push and roar

Beneath my feet in caves unseen;

The challenge of  a salt-bearded god

to cloud-riding Thor.

Last night, the clouds hurled diamonds

Onto whistling grass and gorse,

That flash a million rainbows

To the face of the laundered sun.

In the pillowing dark billows

Of the tearing moon-streaked storm

My soul rose and fell, then finally sank

To blackest stillness where the scream

Of tempest was a distant hiss.

Then hauled by tide to the base of the cliff,

Was shoved into gloom of a sea-scraped den,

Out of the shining beam of morning.

There my washed wreckage

Can whiten in the barnacled black,

Like the ancient bones of a seafarer;

Ossifying in the echo of breakers.

~Polly Oliver (2017)



6 thoughts on “Ossify

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