Register Sunday | October 1 | 2023

I'm Bursting to Tell

Riddles for Conception Bay


I’m the conduit of neighbourliness.
At my best I’m hot-tempered.
Alone I grow cold.
In my belly I hold
what will be a stream soon.


I am a gape, an astonishment
with a little beard.
In my belly they have found
old rings, tin cans, a broken oar.
My children once were legion,
crammed the waters.


I’ve got more pleats than a girl’s skirt—
and I’m the first to jump up for a dance.
I fancy the swoop, the razzamatazz.
Draw me out at a party
and I’m a real old smoothie.
Ah I’m on to the ins and outs of a tune.
But I’m a touchy sort:
rough handling makes me squawk.


I’m a drifter, shape-shifter;
I’m prone to upheaval.
Now I’m castle, now cathedral.
Although you note my diminishing
there’s more to me than meets the eye.


Many-armed, dot-eyed,
I am the stuff of bad dreams.
Like a jilted lover
I spurt ink in anger.


I am the sea’s green mandala.
Some say I’m the spawn of whores.
Gulls drop me from the sky,
smash my hedgehog armour
to spill my secrets on stone.


I can’t make my mind up:
I’m a child of the land—or
am I a child of the sea?
A creature of margins,
I’ve an eye for a trinket,
some nice bric-a-brac.
I soothe the washed-up.


A barbed question,
I am my own answer.
(Now taboo.)
The sun glints off me.
I’m designed to rip flesh,
but some think me a healer.


I gleam in high places.
On stone you’ll kneel,
pluck out my small red eye.


I love your hands;
let me come closer.
But you’re a fickle one.
A flower unleashed a rumour,
linked me with foxes.
Now you sneer at my velvety kiss,
mutter fears of an iron grip.


Birds, boats, crops—
in time I’ve swallowed all.
I’ve patted your baby’s face,
played hide-and-seek in your lilacs.
You’d do well to mind me.


In wry lines I muster
dreams, lies, enigmas.
Though some scorn me as cipher,
I’m full of grand notions.
I’m bursting to tell—
but I’m mute till you come to me.