Far-off wave, depraved. Nali leans over
the edge of the dugout, shakes her rattle.
She calls: “Big Sister let my Small Sister
come to me.” She does: out from the coral
shadows a shadow rising, a shadow
vast, vast as the tide’s rip, twisting current,
rising into song. I was there. I know
you don’t think women can do this. Pregnant
ghosts will scorn you for that. They love Nali,
though. I rowed. She sang and Femme de requin
came to have her snout rubbed, to feast on prayer.
Sisters swam here until men trawled this sea
down to its ghosts. The price of a shark fin
is when you call and only ghosts answer.
Femme de requin is French for shark woman. The inspiration of this poem came from watching Dennis O’Rourke’s 1982 documentary, The Sharkcallers of Kontu.