“Ocean” by Stephen Symons

I cannot call it Water,
as if it stands
stale and warmed,
dusted by afternoon light
in a bedside glass,
awaiting lips,
to quench the dreams of
cadres and capitalists.

Few have truly brushed their
fingers over its sorcery,
its viciousness, its violence,
cracked its bones on wet granite
and pulled at its salted marrow.

Out there, beyond the shallows
of plastic jetsam, holidays and ankles
it shifts with indifference,
milling history to flour,
the particle and cellular slightness
of us, feeding on the shackles
that drag us deep.

Guiltless, it ignores our colonising
as it flays the skin from
past, present and future,
polishing our bones,
floating epochs
and then scuttling them.

It offers no sacrifices,
it hears nothing —
other than its own voice,
the tidal
heave of its breathing,
slowly wearing us back to dust
and geology.


Stephen Symons lives in Cape Town, where he works as a graphic designer. His writing has been published in journals, magazines and various anthologies throughout South Africa. His unpublished collection, Spioenkop was listed as a semi-finalist for the Hudson Prize for Poetry (US) in 2015. More recently, a selection of his poems have been selected for a special edition of Re-Markings, a refereed international bi-annual journal of English. He holds a masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town and is currently working on a PhD in African Studies. His poetry collection, Questions for the Sea (published by uHlanga Poetry Press), was launched in June 2016.

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