Wednesday 8 August 2012



There’s a head on the water. I see it
every morning and evening as I stand
on the beach’s frothy edge – the walrus-head
of a healthy human specimen between  
me and the motor-driven schooners moored 
in mid-harbour, their sails superfluous 
and furled; between the open sea
and the cactus-clustered mountains.

Between me on the hissing hem of froth
and the schooners’ supernumerary sails,
between the cliffs and the promenade I see
a regular middle-aged hominid head,
a brine-encompassed brainbox that proceeds
stealthily from my waking to my sleep,
its wet mouth lapped by whiskers, half-closed eyes
rapt in some indecipherable bliss.

A head that has made this incongruous
element its own, a head on its own 
that has made the sea its own, a head 
that I cannot get out of my own head,
moving without making sense between
the harbour mouth and the holiday apartments,
de facto as the cactus plants that rest
snug in their places on the mountain slopes.

I watch it daily from the ocean’s edge
shifting without a ripple or a wake
in the lagoon between a reef of yachts
and my reluctant water-testing toes,
I see it floating through recurrent dreams –
a king in a country of his own making,
capo di capi not to be discounted
in the fortunate isles of imagination.

A cranium building a head of steam
in its unwimpling progress up and down
the smoothness of the surface, unconcerned
by what is happening offshore or on.
This head of heads, no other head’s contentment,
content without companion head, ensconced
in isolated mindfulness. A head
to end all heads, the mother of all heads.

© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2012

Tenerife, January 2012

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