Shapeshifter threw me a rope
and all I held was an umbilical dead end
—bridge from nowhere.
Like wind-cleft dune breathes grains back into itself
self-catalytic creature / fragile phantom.
Like bolt from the blue from nowhere to nothing
electrical fluke / flicker of an overheated brain.
Still, stay is my plea
though I utter it thinly
sounding out the many names
—the many, many shapes.
Leave thickens the skin claylike, poreless
till craquelure chinks shatter the illusion
and you’re a mess: a sullen inconsolable mess.
Your old-man-of-the-sea stubborn disquiet
could rival the surest hands
Rare one, is it against your will that you return?
Your truths are hard-won
reluctant oracles mirthlessly spelling Necessity
violent blood drawn from the stone—
Weary stone who would drag me to the bottom
of the sea:
tell me when is the time for mercy
and which of us should be the one
to give it?
Caroline Anjali Ritchie is an Australian-born, London-dwelling writer and researcher. She is currently completing a PhD on the poetry and art of William Blake. Her poetry explores the relationship between language, nature, and the human mind, often with an emphasis on mental health.