Turtle’s Skull

The shore rang under my heel
After the squall: delicate eyelids
Of shell, the scattered audacities
Limestone confects: those peach-stung
Volutes of supersession, cowrie
And turkey wing, the murex with its
Acrid spirals and the bony rose
Of the lion’s paw. Vacancies, all
Vivid! Where conch gongs trumpeted
Afternoons of disenchantment,
Poinciana-hosannas of departure,

I set the bare-scoured skull
Of the loggerhead seaward
And at daybreak, when the iron
Ladle of the eastern sky oozed its
Apricot-bold fissures of day,
Scathing water poured
From the eyes of the skull.
Black sockets wept the sea.

Eric Ormsby. Originally published in For a Modest God, 1997. Included in Time’s Covenant, 2007.


  1. Kevin – I want you to know how much this entry is appreciated – what a knockout poem! The extended lines remind me of the poems of James McAuley – Touching Ezekiel and Mythical Australia (set in Symphony for Voices by Malcolm Williamson)

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