Anthony Burge

(16/06/1962 / Australia)

Codfish Dreaming

A large Cod is backed into the galley

Lips agape his bottom jaw protruding

He opens and closes his mouth with each gasping breath

He turns with a flick of his paddle tail and swivels on the spot

Facing me hovering his pectoral fins fanning his ascent

His hangdog head unsmiling tilted towards the cabin light

He floats guardian between the fridge and the sink,

The galley curtains sway to the vessels lurching dance

Like curtains of kelp framing his coral cranny

I turn to see, but not see a spray of tiny baitfish scatter in my peripheral vision

The school of tinsel reassembles as I turn away again

I walk out onto the rear deck the thick air softens my movements as if suspended under water

A school of brightly coloured Fusiliers’ greet me as they swarm in a turquoise spiral around the stairs to the wheelhouse

I glance over my shoulder to see a rainbow coloured Wrasse its teeth protruding in an ungainly smile as she flits between the deck lights and the tangle of navigation rigging jutting upward into the salty night air.

I ascend the stairs of brightly coloured coral thinking it strange but not so

I enter the wheelhouse where the ghostly figure of a weathered mariner stands at the helm

His hair and beard a tangled mess of kelp and coral

He pays me no mind as he throws the wooden wheel from port to starboard his gnarled barnacle encrusted fingers entwined twixt the spokes

I stand behind him looking over his shoulder several giant Potato Cod with their bucket mouths agape funnel the life giving oxygen from the watery air floating suspended whilst staring out the wheelhouse windows

Their eyes as large as teacups soft and pup like swivelling and twitching to and fro

I think for a moment what a strange breed of mariners we are as we crew our watery vessel

We speak not nor engage eyes in line of sight yet we work as one toward a means, my Cod fish friends and I.

Submitted: Sunday, April 07, 2013
Edited: Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Written onboard the 'Bathurst' @ anchor off 'The Cod Hole'-Lizard Island, great Barrier Reef, East Coast Australia after a memorable dive.

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