where jagged black, basalt blocks
face the sea and, for fifty
sheer feet, fall vertically.
Where masochistic waves beat,
with relentless regularity,
against the volcanic rocks.
The spray that is formed
from the shock, like front
row forwards in a final,
floats far inland; coating
the fronds of the pandanus palms,
precariously clinging to the crevices
between the water-worn rocks,
with an encrustation of salt.
It is one of Natures unique places
where the inverted basin of the sky,
horizon, hinterland and sea,
fuse in inspirational majesty.
Although not as predictable
as lunar driven tides,
I frequently wander that hillside,
breathing ozone invigorated air
and soaking in its atmosphere.
Recently I went there for a walk,
But weighed down with suburban blues
and worries of impending rates and dues,
hardly heard the crashing surf
or the cries of the terns and other
birds hang‑gliding over my head.
I stood despondent and depressed,
unresponsive to all about me.
Even oblivious to the way fine
droplets of water from the spray
created hundreds of iridescent
rainbows, far across the bay.
And for the first and only time
contemplated suicide –
until I became aware,
I wasn’t the only one standing there.
In silhouette against the sky
stood a man wearing a suit and tie
and carrying a bulging briefcase.
Another tourist I assumed,
of the type who look and leave
with photos of what they failed
to see ‑ but he was different.
Lowering his briefcase to the grass
he held his hands out before him
as if asking for alms then,
bending his body into the wind,
and trusting the gusts to hold him,
he stepped off the precipice –
and hung suspended in the air!
Astounded I could only stare
as he invited me to join him
in mid‑air, while down below
the foam licked the rocks,
like savage animals licking
their chops in hungry anticipation.
I’m sure it wasn’t my imagination.
Even though I know it sounds
absurd, I swear I heard as
clear as a bird, a single resonating
note, eerily echoing around me.
Although cold enough to cause
a shiver, the sound made
the air quiver, like heat haze,
on a sweltering day; and through
a series of rips in the cosmic fabric,
dozens of beckoning hands appeared,
enticing me to walk on air.
But in the quagmire of my emotions
something started to stir
and, looking into the abyss below,
I understood that the difference
between a rut and a grave is depth,
and I decided not to let go.
I shook my head saying
‘I’m staying…I’m staying’.
The note built to a crescendo
and, like a swaying sea of weed,
the phantom hands beckoned me
with an increasing intensity.
The furious wind nearly succeeded
in sucking me over the cliff.
Then diminuendo – the mystical
man straightened his tie,
nodded goodbye and was gone.
And all this while the sun shone!
Once more I heard the sound
of the surf, and might have thought
nothing had occurred – except
for the briefcase on the ground.
I continue to wonder that wind
exposed hill, and find for all
its noisy waves and quarrelling
terns, an inner serenity there.
And if there is a moral to this
verse, it is take a taxi
and avoid the hearse.
It was only later I happened
to find the forgotten briefcase
Death left behind, and its
List of names, including mine.
© Jeremy Gadd 1992
Published Eidolon (Australia) 1992