The Stern and its Shadow

The sky looks deep today, those oceans must be sinking,
said the stern to its shadow, lost in the night air.
And the moon too, such a sunken grey.
Look at those star-lit stumps on shore, soft kings,
were they cut or fallen, dying so near to the salt hair sea?
And see that hollow temple, columns askew, washed all bone white,
getting smudged in the moonlight;
it’s a thread, a thought resurfaced from some ancient time.
A man is kneeling inside,
said the stern as he dove closer
His head is smooth grey too, blends in with marble floor
as he bends to meet it.
And his chant is flying towards me on the deep night breeze
hushed as the sea draws back its grains of sand and tide through bruised depths-

It is a sigh to the wind sighing back,
a whale call, too low to hear so feel as your ribs quake within you.
“I pray to you…”
Skull quakes too so they say.

It changes now, becomes skull-crushed heavy
your weight upon whitehot pebbles as the heat swells around you,
“I trust in you…”
turns your foreign waters to steam as men nail into you.

It’s getting softer,
the sound of strands of light glazing the sea, quiet spider of the night,
splitting and joining as you cut through them, reflected by destroying,
“I…I…I…I”
as the man in the temple runs out robes white throws himself down by the sea,
tries to beat back the tides with his fists.

Now hear that sound, that deafening roar,
said the stern to the shadowed land as he was blown over,
The wind breathes heavy now, thrown so tangled guilty through that sky,
so deep those oceans must be sinking.

Athena Washburn, Age 16, Grade 11, The Dalton School, Silver Key

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