The Nuns and the Sea


Two nuns walking beside the sea
like Seurat’s ‘Grande Jatte’ ladies, holding
black umbrellas vertically.
The unruly water nipped at their black-lisled ankles
but as though God-guided they evaded the waves;
what had they to do with the voluptuous ocean?
The white sensuous beach
curved before them, and the blue sky was so deep
one unthought-out step and they would have toppled into it.

Like flying black-and-sand-white plaster statues
they paced on ignoring the pull of the tide;
the cling of the beach was lost on their stolid boots.

The dunes were lairs
for grasses and creeping plants and lovers
but the sands were nothing to them —
just a corridor for prayers.

They walked on ringing the coast with their meditations,
treading silently the shifting edge of Australia.

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