the wave

when the wave came
white eyed,
it left behind its heart
discarded, broken
an object for which
it had no more use
strange wood
to be found
by the beach walker
who had never
seen its like before

he sharpened
his carving tools
closed his eyes
and let the
wounded grain
find shape
under his hands
he polished it
with the fat
of gannets,
half blind
with the stink,
rubbed it smooth
with the vanes
of flight feathers
he strung the wood
with fibres of drift nets,
tuned to kelp harmonics
tidal scordatura
intricate as coral
until in the strings
he heard the sea

he went to the headland
out over the grieving waters
he played the voice
of wingborne gulls
the restless sigh
of dune grass
sand hissing
in autumnal gales
he played until
the sea was quiet
he played until
he was stone
he played until
the wave came
and gentle
washed around him

the wave won the 2008/2009 scottish national galleries inspired?get writing! competition. it appears in the anthology from that collection as well as in stone and sea