Bondi Beach


This sundown gathering

of locals, travellers, recent émigrés

on the first balmy day—like the partly random

arrangement of stones on an ancient site

or a patchy memory of this place,

small groups seated in circles, recumbent in rows.


Brightly clad, semi-naked bodies

adapt themselves to the feel of sand; their curves

complementing the arc of beach, curl of waves.

Surfers paddle out on the gentle swell—wet skin,

shining amber. Catching slow breaks on longboards,

they ride with the ease of the hour. A woman

floating on her back savours the buoyant lassitude.


I think of Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne;

they would know what to make of this spot:

the lavender wash, bathers lifting their towels

the father with two girls ambling around the rockpools—

lingering over molluscs, anemones, cunjevoi,

a crab in a crevice with one claw  

hanging out. 


The buildings stacked on the headland

—neither elegant nor elemental—

but the sun gilds gutters and windows

like strips of gold ribbon and squares of gift paper.


Two skaters at the bowl

push one another, and a bull terrier

barks, tugging at his master’s

lead. A Harley motors into

the carpark as the garish lights

of an outdoor bar stammer on:

A new scene—one for a van Gogh