the sea takes a wife

a poem in two voices


he builds a bach at Boulder Bay
on rock and crusty sand
holds his winter wedding there
the speeches the banter
his baby’s to be induced
his wife’s worry as heavy as water
lighter when she swims
the baby rocks her uterine bed
through her mother’s skin
her thin thin voice
I’m not ready  yet
the woman lifts her shoulders
her arms like oars
a long desperate prayer
for forgiveness
the woman and baby
will never be closer
the woman swimming
the baby turning like a waterwheel             






the sea drowns the coastline
singles out the bach
admires the sloped roof
watches the bedroom window
the bach becomes anxious
doesn’t sleep doesn’t eat
grows smaller burrows deep
and wide tries to hide
the sea undercuts the foundations
wave cuts the weatherboards
takes the upper hand
there’s crayfish on the table
a fire in the grate
from macrocarpa
the man plants a surf break
the sea with lips and arms
warming the rising water
carries the surf break
like a bride


Kerrin P Sharpe has published four collections of poetry with Te Herenga Waka University Press. She has also had poems published in a wide range of journals both in NZ and overseas, including Oxford Poets 13 (Carcanet Press), Blackbox Manifold, Poetry (USA), PN Review and Stand. In 2021 she was awarded a Michael King Writers Centre Summer Residency.