They said it was here. Buried before my birth.
I had no reason to doubt them. Besides, I loved belief.
That, and myth. I could almost see it through their lens,
their open window, doorway frames, their rusted locks
but this door never did lead to the beach, not once,
and the marram grass I feel scratch at my soles
never did take root. I am both fish and toad, and neither,
turquoise and aquamarine, gills flapping, mouth closed.
I must hold my breath long enough to descend
to that air-pocket place of half-dream, and blink twice,
must look myself in the eye for the second time,
note the tint of iris, grown strange, the pupil’s pulse.
My eyes are clear, like the sea, and blue is an illusion.
The mirror’s frame is tarnished gold, layers of nacre
glint in curved drops, distort distance. The folds
of my dress gather at my feet as liquid charcoal.
I hear an underwater echo of wood on water,
the flat slap of paddle and the time rushing in,
knowing I have not captured the moment on film,
knowing there is no time lapse of woman becoming shell.