Watch your little sister, said my father,
His eyes reflecting the swoon of black-back gulls
Over the fast rising tides, their mid-morning threat,
The flat stretch of sand and mud and the rich
Cockle beds that we would plunder until
Our heads grew heavy, or dizzy with the flutter of Eiders.
But in the quick of an instant, the tide rose and fell,
The way the world will someday end, the crash and the shatter,
My sister, Mayli, swept into the bogs, her soul into the hollow,
I jumped into Morecambe Bay, and with my eyes closed,
I could see her, and her mother-of-pearl smile that she
Always wore for the photographers: Grandpa and cousin Ming,
but above water and paddling with my eyes open,
I could only imagine a white pearl.
lying at the bottom of the river,
I could only imagine my sister's smile
As peaceful as the reflection of saplings
In motionless water.
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