Out The Tent, by Madeleine Marie Slavick

Early night hills move
to profile, wear bushy velvet skirts
with some outcrop warts

Coming closer, five feral cows
chew old rice terraces and step
down the series like a lesson in obedience

Crabs, shy in their uneven saddles,
scurry in grass as dry as newspaper,
their hole in one of these sands

Then boat engines chainsaw
at our thin tent, police angle shouts
into shoulder radios, helicopter lights scan our fear:
A man has disappeared

We hear the myths: a spearfisher
from a dark rock corner, diver and shark,
nightsurfer, swimmer in the undertow
of three great things: night and sea and solitude

We become different lumps of sleep
and wake each time we turn over
The dogs at the next tent sigh

One of us leaves to sleepwalk
and arrives at the wet sounds below,
a beach toppled with the unattached

Where is all the light from anyway?
The sky stays grey
and the tides patient,
rinsing everything out twice a day,
like new parents

Credit note:This poem is from Madeleine M. Slavick’s collection “delicate access”, poems in English with translations into Chinese by Luo Hui, and is reproduced by permission of the author.

Madeleine M. Slavick is a writer and photographer. Madeleine has several books of poetry and non-fiction and has exhibited her photography internationally. She has lived in Germany, Hong Kong, and the USA, and was until recently based in New Zealand. She maintains a daily blog: touchingwhatilove.blogspot.com.

Tim says: I suspect this poem wasn’t written about a night in the New Zealand bush, given the mention of old rice terraces, but it reminds me very much of nights spent outside in the rain in a tent, and mysterious lights that pause and move on. I’m a sucker for a great last line or couplet – this one is wonderful!

You can see all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog – the hub poem in the centre, and all the week’s other poems on the right.

3 thoughts on “Out The Tent, by Madeleine Marie Slavick

  1. Thanks for posting the poem, Tim.The poem is based near a stunningly beautiful sandy beach in Hong Kong. Clear water, hills, pineapple, wild cows. There are also shark attacks.Beauty can be dangerous.

  2. Yes, it reminded me of camping in the bush/near the sea in New Zealand – lovely how poetry can seep through geographical boundaries! Thanks for sharing! I will check out her blog.

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