Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Three December 2022.
Altered Carbon, poems by Margaret Bradstock.
You can have your life inserted
into a whole new body.
Organic or synthetic, as you prefer.
transported to a teenage body
or saved on a ‘stack’, to be stored
in dusty boxes in forgotten libraries
agents of amnesia
like an over-crowded cemetery.
Yesterday, the largest
of the big blue gropers, the godfather,
his entourage of smaller fish
foraging for food,
waves soaring above us,
far from the barriers of COVID-19
or any kind of death, the memory
transmitted to flickering screens.
Beaches now are closed, lifeguards
patrolling empty, furrowed sands,
permits to visit rescinded
simulacra of our unspecial lives
already streaming on cable
or replicated in a different brain.
Bequeath to death your numbness
when we are
gone to data , every one.
Black as carbon, the molecules
drift slowly down the coast
stretched out from the breakwater
beyond lines of sand
like a final curtain.
The sun didn’t fall from the sky
sensing an apocalypse
but shone down as always
on celadon green water.
Swimmers swam on, caught between breaths
diving past memory’s shoals
the mist impenetrable
fish absent, inflatable plastic unicorns
riding the waves.
On the beach, children had piled
stones into human figures
like Inukshuk cairns, metaphor
for a grief or landmark
that has no meaning yet.
Swimming with Stingrays
The third I’ve seen this summer
lying flat on the ocean floor,
undulating slightly with the current
like a grey, non-slip shower mat.
They wash in over the breakwater
at high tide, bury themselves in sediment
waiting for hard-shelled prey.
Docile and curious, stingrays
(they say) may attack if provoked.
Filming in shallow waters, Steve Irwin
swims towards the chosen specimen,
his shadow its predator, a tiger shark
perhaps. The venomous spike
stabs wildly at heart and lungs,
swirling of waves, the taste of salt.
Ten seconds for him to die.
Hovering beneath water,
your passing shadow dogs you
like an unexpected diver.
© Margaret Bradstock
Margaret Bradstock is a Sydney poet, critic and editor. She lectured at UNSW for 25 years and has been Asialink Writer-in-residence at Peking University, co-editor of Five Bells for Poets Union, and on the Board of Directors for Australian Poetry. She has eight published collections of poetry, including The Pomelo Tree (winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize) and Barnacle Rock (winner of the Woollahra Festival Award, 2014). Editor of Antipodes, the first Australian anthology of Aboriginal and white responses to “settlement” (2011) and Caring for Country (2017), Margaret won the Banjo Paterson Poetry Award in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Her most recent book is Brief Garden (Puncher & Wattmann, 2019).