Zijie Ken Pan
Date of Birth: 1/10/56
Location: Sydney, Australia
Published in: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian
The first time I see her, she is standing on the end of the jetty
that points at other places but
doesn't make it as a bridge.
She wears a white swimsuit. Her hair long and black and already wet.
Her skin pale,
floating world pale to make hair on the back of my neck stand.
She turns for just a moment, enough for a glimpse of face, a quick impish
smile. She turns, raises her arms over head like an angel, a momentary
bend of knees, a graceful practical dive. A woman in momentary flight, was a
splash. A sound cold along the coast, a ripple back to Antarctica circling
around India down the East African coast, in the wake of four hundred year
Dutch sailing ships.
I run to the end of the jetty; her wet footprints start halfway along
and go straight to the end. I look over but cannot see. A few minutes,
she doesn't surface, still hasn't, but I see her again, in the distance, walking
the dunes. The sun set, the sky purple, water turning murky
grey-green. Horizon line strung tight like a trip turned loose. The coastal
surveillance drives onto the jetty and the uniformed man asks for my license
and who the woman in the ocean was.
I see her, raise my fist high, cheer.
She stands out of water, swimsuit rolled down, bare-breasted and waves back.
That's my wife,
the coastal surveillance eyes her body, the dark of her nipples, and breaks up
like a flock of zebra finches
sitting on a derelict barbed wire, spooked, like school children from
a playground bench.