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  • Writer's pictureNeuro Logical

Beach Life - Stephen O'Reilly

They emerge from the brine at even’tide

Armoured against the flux

Of a fickle blue-white sun that flares

Beneath a gently curved horizon

Pincers held aloft, exultant in frothing surf

Rasping on a dim and ferrous shore

And establish forts on that first beach

Knap flinty stone from beyond the wrack

Harness sparks and learn the knack

Of fusing sand and smelting ore

To harvest lights from distant shores

That glide serenely across The Black

Decipher the tides and eddies above

Stridulate in click-clack tongue

Songs of solace and of flight

To worlds resolved among the lights

Cordial hails in microwave flung

In defiance of petulant sun

Fashion quick machines to extend the reach

From the silicates at their feet

Dishes arrayed along the shore

To cup Creation’s hiss

And speculate, idly, if the myriapodan God

Would have eight or ten legs?

Genesis of the Base-8 War

Shattered carapace strewn across the shore

And when the decapods eventually win

They swear to code out both hind limbs

To honour the Divine and be forever

In accord with octal kind

For eight is the more symmetrical number

The way of dichotomy or bipartition being

The most natural and easy kind of subdivision

Until only the Holy One remains

And lurch clumsy up into The Black

Steam and fire boiling aft

Laughing, no way back

Clinging to the hull with pincers locked

On chitinous ships of cobbled junk

Pushed on silky sails billowed with light

Out to frozen motes of methane ice

And finally reach a more commodious yellow strand

Across the lambent sea of suns


Stephen O’Reilly lives in Galway. He is a winner of the 2019 RTE short story Award in honour of Francis MacManus and a Molly Keane Memorial Award and his work has appeared most recently in The Daily Drunk and The Cabinet of Heed. His short stories have been published in various collections in the UK and Ireland.

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