Stone Telling

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Foam, Braided with Teeth

by Michele Bannister

One molar: this vice fixes firm our voice.
Never stand alone to be wind-torn:
claw, bite, sing in threefold fury,
hurl prophesy into the winds of the world.
Speak promises. Splice and recombine.

You are carved out of us.
Child and cousin, daughter and friend:
we are the surf-surge, the tempest-wave
foam-born and fickle,
echoed by the howl of storms.

Our gift, waiting, bubble-quick to fracture:
gull-cruel warring, flocked with fear,
the searing devastation of home after home —
memories, made kin.
Our multitudes within each and all of you,
unsought as caught seaweed, furl-wrapped
in tangled lines of ancestry.

I do not know if you should trust us.

You are home-rooted, host-harboured,
calm in the certainty of warmth. A place
where there is sun-gold, bronzed and baked,
such as we could never see in summer:
yet you hold the rough jewellery of earth
the tasselled weavings, scratch-threaded;
the memory of pain.

To you our sung screams waft like dune-grass,
seen by the wind, salted and sleeping.
Your queries: tide-murmurings on mudflats,
hoping for subtle shores of solace.

For now
a single tooth must say to you
all that we were.

The Denisovan genome is now known extremely well, thanks to a new sequencing method: yet their only fossils so far are a finger bone, a toe bone and a tooth.

Michele Bannister lives in Australia, where she is working towards her doctorate in astronomy. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, and other venues, in the Here, We Cross anthology (Stone Bird Press, 2012), and is forthcoming in Ideomancer and Goblin Fruit.

Photography: adapted from weed trails by Ian 'Harry' Harris.