There was an afterlife, like a city mapped over itself:
Newcastle-under-Sea, a global-warmed necropolis
to rival Atlantis. A river flowed beneath the warm
North Sea, the murky Tyne transformed to Lethe.
Across the Tyne Bridge, mermaids swam
in funereal splendour, and swordfish filleted
the sea-green rust of girders and rivets,
a cortege of civil engineering.
Shoals of silver-finned fish glinted
at their reflections in the wave-form Sage,
its curves frozen in staid imitation of their graceful
fickle dance. A final violin could still be heard,
high-strung, un-bowed and plaintive, while mermaids
keened for the newly dead, and the lost city forgot
its sunlit past of a world above.
And the dead came on and on, in waves,
a high Spring tide of death, running
their half-marathon to Hades.
I drifted against the tide of ghosts
to the drowned hill of Grey Street.
Not even the Monument could break
its head above the surface of the sea.
I watched birds grow weary with circling,
uncertain where to land; no ark of safety
to return to, nor olive for the prophet's hand.
Crista Ermiya grew up in London, of Filipino-Turkish-Cypriot parentage, and now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her husband and son.
Her debut short story collection The Weather in Kansas (Red Squirrel Press, 2015) was selected for New Writing North's 2016 Read Regional campaign.
Crista is a freelance writer and editor and works for the journal Landscape Research based at the University of Sheffield.
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After the flood © 2016 Crista Ermiya: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.