Grandmother killed by shark as big as helicopter

said the headlines.
Apparently you were doing backstroke
when Eve hit you.
Yes, the shark had a name.
Last season pensioners brought sandwiches
and tea in flasks
waiting for sight of the huge female great white
named Eve by the local papers
making her regular circuit of the coast.
From Muizenberg, alongside the railway line
snaking alongside the warm Indian ocean
through the bluegreen catspaws
to Glencairn, usually reaching Sunny Cove around 11 am.

Tyna, you were 77.
Fit, tanned and elegant, you swam for decades
every morning at Sunny Cove.
Too far out, scolded your friends-
When itís my time itís my time, you answered.
Onlookers were traumatised
but you didn't know a thing.
It made the London newspapers
and we enjoyed a dayís celebrity
from having swam at that beach many times.

I saw that ocean in all its moods
closing my eyes at the Fulham pools
with the smell of chlorine in my nose.
One day that came back
fishing for blacktail off the canoe, in a sea of dancing pennies
a hundred yards from shore, couldnít go wrong.
The shoal floated up like silver butterflies
under the canoe, to take the driftbait.

I read the article, and looked out at a low grey sky.
Went swimming, doing backstroke
looking up at steel girders
but seeing your last sight
as in a dream I have dreamed a thousand times
The blue above, and the mountain.
The Japanese pray for a good death-
Tyna, the gods of the sea wanted to reward you
for your life
so they sent Eve to bring you home
out of breath, happy, with salt on your skin.

Poems