A Consort for Panthalassa

Mat Joiner

I walk to you down cliff-steps, garlanded by wrack
and sea-pink, not fearing to fall – I have so many times.
Your tides will catch me. Your sighs are a homecoming.
I let go of the land, arrow into glass-green and spume
like a cormorant diving; give myself up to undertow.
Slough clothes and earth-skin in simple, eager greed.
I am changed with the brine-burn of your first kiss;
fingers to webs, to leave claw-marks, trails in you.
You open me: gill-flower gardens to taste the silt-rill,
the salt-nuzzle of you on my mouth. Take and tumble me
like pebbles and spars; paint me with the greenest
shatter-dappled suns. Kindle kraken-fires in my eyes.
I am spread for you, gyring: my arms and legs wide
to your currents, undone and undine here.
I’ve hoarded the sucker-kisses on my arms
like rare coins this land-bound year; my skin’s
a desert without you. I am a shell, unlocked by your arms.
I widen to the slide-glide and fill of you.
My ​yes bursts silver; then I am weed-cuffed,
splayed star-wise, my stilled mouth wrapped
by muscle and net. I’ll wear your kisses about my lips.
Words are for inshore lovers now: only the whirlpool
that closes between the thighs; the buck of hips
and tentacles; scale on skin, small private currents.
Dissolve me, lover, as you would a shore;
break on me. I will arch and marry my salt to yours,
pearling, willing wreckage. Hold and roll me
as long as you can before ebbs part us.
I’m beached again, stumbling back into inland flesh,
scoured and smooth as sea-glass. Now I will walk
and listen to each storm and shipping call
to count down the undrowning days.
Panthalassa, I will come back to you again.

Mat Joiner lives near Birmingham, England, where they accumulate books, stones, and fossils. Their poems and stories have appeared in the likes of ​Strange Horizons, Lackingtons, and ​Not One Of Us, and they co-edit the speculative poetry magazine ​Liminality with Shira Lipkin.