Where Once I Saw Her Dance

WHERE ONCE I SAW HER DANCE

ANNE CASEY

 

beyond the sleepy dapplings of the mangroves

trailing lazy limbs into the drowsing waves

across the turquoise crests of placid currents

that lap up to the gently sloping shore

 

out past the breakers idly frothing

beneath the rolling drifts of whitecap spray

once I saw her dance, her head encircled brightly

in blooming rubicund and blazing saffron stars

 

tresses dressed with every hue there budding

ribbons streaming emerald and vivid sapphire-blue

peacock-feathered tendrils trailed behind her

a giant clam gasped deep and wide with awe

 

humpback whale came to slowly drift above her

their voices joined the wind to sing her praise

seals paused to frolic in her swirlings

a maori wrasse gliding past took his fill

 

and later as the evening stretched and lingered

slow to let the day slip to the sea

the sun came slanting through that glassy window

to spread a crimson blanket for her sleep

 

leaping with first light came the dugongs

and dolphins circling idly by her side

dragon-fish nimbly flitting through her fingers

Neptune’s Cup Sponge brushing past her toes

 

as clownfish coaxed a path around her shoulders

where her braids were twined with amber

and with rose; turtles grazed on grassy rolling

borders, porcupine ray rippling in the flats

 

ribboned pipefish nibbled at the treats she offered

mantis shrimp and krill came picking at the crumbs

in her garden suffuse with every colour

bottlebrush bordered staghorn skirting ferns

 

but storms came to dash her radiant features

her gorgeous tresses have all turned white with woe

her feathered grasses are falling all around her

blossoms fading from magenta, fuschia, gold

 

angelfish in anguish bow their heads down

swimming hard against a swiftly rising tide

 

she is drowning in a sea awash with cobalt

deadly metals fill the channels where she breathes

 

her lovely limbs are shackled down with plastics

her lungs are laced with deadly manganese

a crown of thorns to pierce her pretty head

a bed of sludge to lull her in her dreams

 

her cherished creatures perish all around her

in the clutch of slowly simmering seas

where once beyond the dapplings of the mangroves

beneath the drowsing waves and turquoise crests

 

way out past the breakers idly frothing,

I saw her dance, her head encircled brightly

in blooming rubicund and blazing saffron stars

tresses dressed with every hue there budding

 

ribbons streaming emerald and vivid sapphire-blue