Murray Dreaming

By Stephen Edgar b. 1951 Stephen Edgar
It’s not the sharks
Sliding mere inches from his upturned face
Through warps of water where the tunnel arcs
Transparent overhead,
Their lipless jaws clamped shut, extruding teeth,
Their eyes that stare at nothing, like the dead,
Staring at him; it’s not the eerie grace
Of rays he stood beneath,
Gaping at their entranced slow-motion chase

That is unending;
It’s not the ultra-auditory hum
Of ET cuttlefish superintending
The iridescent craft   
Of their lit selves, as messages were sent,
Turning the sight of him they photographed
To code: it is not this that left him dumb
With schoolboy wonderment
Those hours he wandered the aquarium.

It is that room,
That room of Murray River they had walled
In glass and, deep within the shifting gloom
And subtle drifts of sky
That filtered down, it seemed, from the real day
Of trees and bird light many fathoms high,
The giant Murray cod that was installed
In stillness to delay
All that would pass. The boy stood there enthralled.

Out in the day
Again, he saw the famous streets expound
Their theories about speed, the cars obey,
Racing to catch the sun,
The loud fast-forward crowds, and thought it odd
That in the multitudes not everyone
Should understand as he did the profound
Profession of the cod,
That held time, motionless, unknown to sound.

In bed at night,
Are his eyes open or is this a dream?
The room is all dark water, ghosted light,
And midway to the ceiling
The great fish with its working fins and gills
Suspended, while before it glide the reeling
And see-through scenes of day, faintly agleam,
Until their passage stills
And merges with the deep unmoving stream.

Source: Poetry (November 2008).

 Stephen  Edgar

Biography

Stephen Edgar was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied classics and English at the University of Tasmania and has worked as an editor and a librarian. He is the author of the poetry collections Queuing for the Mudd Club (1985), Ancient Music (1988), Corrupted Treasures (1995), Where the Trees Were (1999), Lost in the Foreground (2003), Other Summers (2006), and History of the Day (2009).   A lyric formalist, Edgar probes the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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