Suddenly, Last Summer

a poem by Jan Oskar Hansen

Swam in a blue sea, only slightly paler
Than the sky, when the body surfaced,
A bloated whale, in a black suit, face down
Bobbing and turning towards me. I pushed
The corpse gently in the direction of shore
And bathers fled, death has that effect and
I was alone with a deceased man, both of us
Far from home!

Turned him on his back, an ashen face with
A bullet hole in its forehead, green eyes crying
Sea, seeing something far away, but keeping
Their secrets and as the sun pierced his huge
Belly he sighed and got smaller, till his suit was
Too big for him. From his open mouth tiny
Pink crabs fled and plastered on his bald head
A sea star loosened its grip.

I opened a parasol someone had left in haste,
Death has that effect, waited for the law
To show up and knew that this strand of sand
Would be empty this year, only visited by
Those who didn’t know and when they did,
Would shudder and not come back. Evening,
High Tide and since the police never showed up
I watched the man float back whence he came.