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Featured Poem • September 2014

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An Eyewitness Guide to the Sea Shore

 

Margo Lanagan

 
 

It rolls along the promenade. Some kind of plastic? No? What, then? It’s not going with the wind. See the safety flags? See the direction people’s hair is flapping in? The colours go over and over, a pinwheeling blur, like the spinner on the screen when the program’s not responding. People with gelati idly, over their shoulders, watch it pass —and keep watching, arrested by the steadiness, by the continuing, by the fact that those who watch only watch; no one steps forward to stop the thing, to pick it up, to feel its weight (does it have any?), to examine it, to find its owner, give it back. They all just let it roll on. A man sees it in time to step out of its way, becomes one of the watchers, one of the standers and watchers. Over and over, bright, glossy, a sun-flash on it, too heavy, too steady for a beach-ball, and too serious, it draws a streak of silence through the crowd, a curious quietness, a musing one—there’s no alarm yet, just the herd lifting its head, testing the air, keeping its counsel, as the stranger passes through.

 

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Margo LanaganMargo Lanagan’s first published work was poetry, in small Australian literary magazines in the 1980s. She’s since carved out a career as a speculative fiction and young-adult author, writing novels and short stories. The occasional poem still happens along.

About “An Eyewitness Guide to the Sea Shore” she writes, “I wrote this poem in Mike Allen’s speculative poetry workshop at Readercon in 2013. I’d never set myself the task of writing a speculative poem before, and I wanted my Readercon experience to include not just panels and readings but also a little actual writing. This poem is pretty much what fell out of me at Mike’s prompting.”

 

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