The Wake

AKKO, Cecilia, aged 37 years. Suddenly, on Thursday 12th December, 2020, by tragedy at Little Bear Cove. Cecilia is survived by her partner Kane. A short ceremony in remembrance of Cecilia’s life will be held at Bear Creek Funeral Home, 2pm Saturday. In lieu of flowers, please bring a memory to share. 

Some clouds bloom like a bruise, like the ink from a slipped needle. Dull ache of colour pushing lymph. The clamour of my new skin twists me from sleep – was that sleep? I was riding the stormdrains, to the sea, scrape after scrape and the water inside me rollercoasters – kin to slime, jelly, fatberg, fat-grape neurons in bunches, squeezed for something that might be wine. In the pressing, I know my slurry is mother-of-purple, like hers. Once you and I swam somewhere cleaner, ape-hair-shit-shiver scared of what might be out there, bellies sucked tight against the tubes inside us all honking just sink, you go down easy, water calls to water. But my eyes were all full of sky where your mouth was full of broken waves and your last froth was a question of rage – what the hell do you see up there. It was the first time I saw the magnet glinting in the tilt of every storm, the needle that tugs us through the next lurch. How we love to chase things down, iron dogs we are, thinking ourselves unmastered. We’re hooked to our fix of meaning. We’d stab the sky to death to find it.

When I first saw her, I walked the beach with human feet, like you. Gone to gawk the dying coast, to plan the wake, gathering the ghost bottles. It was my job, before the storm. There’s a line of them out there, coughed up where the sea is spitted to froth by our relentless coming-in coming-out coming-here. By our chasing after ourselves. And where that cliff wings a scapula, hair-trees flex and shiver in the south howl. It’s a shoulder of land desperate to lift itself free and wave like the water – cramp clear in the shape.  She nested there, in the armpit-shadow – I thought her a twist of gorgon hair, a fetch of kelp standing rigid with enchantment, stupidly offered her my pair of broken bottles, a ritual scissors. Aurora-flash and the cave belched with tide-slop, and I saw, and I heard, and I became. 

She was dying. Faster than you went down, and her eyes slitted the same shape of angry. In a gout of bellowed ink, she clouded her final will over the chandeliers of her eggs – kin to slime, jelly, fatberg, fat-grape potential in bunches, drenched in last-mothering wine. And me, the gulp of culpability. Water does call to water, trapped inside a body, and jelly insinuates at jelly, and each tiny black eye was an iron filing, spun toward the magnet of my storm. Oh, I’m sunk, I’m stabbed, forgive me, I thought all I carried out was ordinary grief. Sentience, it turns out, is also a kind of ink. They ride the water-race inside, the brain-hook children, writing their future on the papyrus of my shed cells. The tubes in my belly honk with meaning in the night – hey, you, you’re not the smart one in this game

We never were. All they needed was a sea that walked around, thinking it meant something. 

Ankh Spice is a queer poet from Aotearoa New Zealand. He’ll float words out into this mess until he can’t (and knows that’s coming sooner than he’d like). If you find any, it was all worth it.


Twitter: @SeaGoatScreams