Published 8 May 20204 June 2020 · Poetry Poetry | The Offing Jaya Savige i. On the bluff, by the lookout, off the path, in the scrub, no one is coming but us. And through the coin-operated binoculars it is clear we are going for it—in the surf, on a weekday, beyond the flags, we are creating a little churn within the great one; and we are there again at night, conducting a languid choir of glowing phytoplankton; and we’re ducking behind the wreck, further up, where the angelfish are flashing in and out of the rust, and the moon wrasse nose you while egg-hunting; and we’re puffing like seal pups against a mica proscenium, edging toward the place where the cowrie shell’s lip lies glistening, and the cucumbers are inching, and one is bashfully squirting; and we’re fumbling about the fire starters, the newspaper, the kindling because we didn’t quite make it to the caravan’s awning; and we’re tangled in snake vine, its bonsai persimmon dehiscing; ii. and we’re stirring in the dunes, nude as beach beans, amid the gawping mauve throats of the morning glory, ribboned with the crepe of their seedpod pith, crisping. And we needn’t be home by evening, for the egret has folded the washing, and the shovel-nose doesn’t mind ironing, and the rock oyster’s done the recycling. No, we needn’t come home at evening, for the cormorant’s happily monitoring the little ones, and the coral is hinting it will soon be finished its photocopying. So we’re at it again, on elbows, knees, pawing and scooping, shoveling practically everything into the bucket: handfuls of hairy cockles, sloping horse mussels, and a thing iii. that could have been a gold-mouthed periwinkle; and we’re singing while connecting the hose; and we’re dancing while turning the tap on; and we’re praising while rinsing all kinds of Venus clam—pleated, sculpted, swollen—conceiving a bracelet for an imminent beach christening. And the veteran lifeguard is averting her peregrine eyes; she just keeps scanning the rip and triple-checking the shark netting, smirking. For nothing on earth is distracting, not even the spurned cry of the lapwing; no nothing we hear is off-putting, iv. not even the totalitarian yawn of the Boeing; and nothing that lurks is disturbing, not even the bung note of the wobbegong, when the shoaling wave of our toes begins curling, and the fetch at the pinch where it gathers is surging, and the tent of the shore break is cresting, and the firmament blurs with the ceiling. Cocooned in our loose weave of salt, you’d think we were shimmying seahorse spawn, but zoom in and see: we are scrubbing each other like pumice, resolving the dilemma of skin, shirring a sleeve of sea, sounding the offing. Jaya Savige Jaya Savige was born in Sydney, grew up in Moreton Bay and Brisbane, and lives in London, where he lectures at the New College of the Humanities at Northeastern. He is the author of Latecomers (UQP, 2005), which won the New South Wales Premier’s Kenneth Slessor Prize, and Surface to Air (UQP, 2011), shortlisted for The Age Poetry Book of the Year. His next collection, Change Machine, is forthcoming from UQP in 2020. More by Jaya Savige › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 3 November 20233 November 2023 · Poetry our neighbours poem Ender Başkan our neighbours face appears above the fence – hello. our neighbours have a chat with us. our neighbours learn our names. our neighbours become our friends. our neighbours landlord thinks the market is ripe. our neighbours are told to leave. our neighbours try to buy their house at an exorbitant price to keep their kids in the school zone. our neighbours are denied. First published in Overland Issue 228 25 October 202325 October 2023 · Poetry The inhabitants Elif Sezen I died today, among many others, my grandpa died too, and our neighbours, / my best friend, the one with braided hair yes, and our sweet sweet doctors, / our motherly nurses... We heard a blast, then a whoosh of some kind, / and all gone.