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Photo by Rachel Cook on Unsplash

Burned by the sun, smashed by the wind, salted by the sea,

she washed up on the shore, delivered like a dish

to an empty table.

Sensing the stillness, she opened her eyelids on

smooth yellow sand, unbroken by even

a single footprint.

Moving stiff limbs, stretching raw skin, she flipped herself over,

pushed to her knees, rose to her feet and

took a slow step.

The ground seemed to waver, but she kept her balance and

stayed on the tightrope as she walked

towards the trees.

When she reached the shade, her thoughts became clearer,

able to be read without the hostile glare

of the sun.

Every cell begged her, clamouring together

that the first thing she must find was

unsalted water.

She peered down the beach, where the sand stretched for miles

and the only thing that moved was the

shimmer of heat.

She peered through the trees, into a dark mess of branches

and the only thing she heard was the

song of crickets.

All she knew to do was to walk along the shore,

staying in the shade and praying very hard for

an outflowing creek.

For hours she crept forward, stepping to the beat

of the pulsing of insects throbbing

in her brain.

As her vision was assaulted with fireworks in her eyes,

she focussed on her feet, which is why she didn’t see

what was ahead.

When suddenly the ground gave way, she screamed and felt herself

fall blind, headfirst into a rushing stream of

fresh, clear water.

It washed away the salt, it washed away the tears and blood,

it seeped inside her blistered mouth and eventually through each

cell membrane.

She was burned by the sun, smashed by the wind, salted by the sea,

surprised to survive and overwhelmingly happy

to be alive.

Australian writer, environmental activist, hang-gliding assistant & former sailor, journalist & clown. Debut poetry collection available now. www.emmabriggs.net

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