In the hot blustery
katabatic wind – past midnight –
with a fingernail moon
sailing in the sky
(scraps of clouds sliding away underneath it)
I left the boat, and walked the narrow beach, steep,
under the great blue grey
Hottentots Holland Mountains
with the nun I’d just met
(years later, the kids in the movie
would find a phrase for it:
a nunswept beach)
She was saying goodbye to the coast,
transferred to the thirstland Karoo,
and didn’t mind, it seemed,
someone to talk to.
And the whitecaps marching luminously
in the thick blue light,
the sand stinging my legs,
her dress flapping manically in the night
– a sound muted by those all around it.
She said softly that although this was
her favourite spot, she had
come to terms with leaving.
There’s always something bigger than you,
she said serenely, someone to obey.
Different folks: half drunk, I quizzed her
and our conversation stretched out to an hour
by violent breaths of the hot roaring wind,
and black-rag-scraps of shadow racing out across
the sand to join the madcap march of the sea
away from us.
Different folks: she stood so still in the soft shallow lap
of the surge that her feet eroded into the sand,
buried to her ankles
while I – impatient I – walked
in circles around her, making restless
little patterns with my toes.
We spoke about how the wind would be different over there
the air itself be different
the dust, and the texture of the night;
and she said yes, but it was of course part of the something bigger that bound the all of us
– us, the little moving parts.
What about Love? I asked
when we got onto that
and she said that was exactly what
Different folks: in the buffeting
hot and swirling wind, the moon gone
and now nearly dawn we walked to the breakwater,
paused while she put her sandals on,
and said goodbye
with a handshake that was really just a touch of fingertips –
She went back to her packing
(There’s not much she said,
just two suitcases)
not much for the rest of your life
and I dropped down lightly to the deck,
crawled past the diesel to my sticky little bunk
knowing we’d be going in the morning,
that the wind would be gone by then, too.