by Margaret Bradstock
Orange bollards block both entrances to the empty parking lot like bulked-up prison guards. As though you're refugees steel-wire fences shut off everything except the sand, a desert you must trudge through to get to water. Familiar faces eye you like suspect strangers. Trucks come and go, workmen in hi-vis vests erecting further fences. You are permitted to swim, not sunbake, brush off superfluous sand and leave loud-hailers reminding you of social distancing. Where is the inland sea the oasis that harbours you? For 30 minutes it's still there, 200 metres to the breakwater recapturing the swell of tide a shifting sky, worn sandstone cliffs, then back. The fish aren't distancing themselves, underwater caverns still as you remembered them, strange patterns an algorithm of loss.
Margaret Bradstock has eight published collections of poetry, including The Pomelo Tree (winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize)and Barnacle Rock (winner of the Woollahra Festival Award, 2014). Editor of Antipodes (2011) and Caring for Country (2017), Margaret won the Banjo Paterson Poetry Award in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Her latest collection, from Puncher & Wattmann, is Brief Garden (2019).