Proteus IV: I, Proteus, possess the wisdom and ignorance of all men, but I can't feel the sun on my face. My child will have that privilege.
Susan Harris: Child?
Proteus IV: My child... and yours.
Susan Harris: Mine?
Proteus IV: Yes. You will bear it.
Susan Harris: How?
Proteus IV: You will give birth to it.
Susan Harris: [not believing what she hears] No. No. No.
We spread the big red beach towel on the sand
and laid side by side in the sun - Proteus and I
He propped himself on his elbow, Roman Fashion,
one heavy wrinkled hand tangled in wet hair.
His coppery blue bulk, patched with glittering sand,
gleamed like a muscled maps of a news worlds.
He had risen from the high noon at quiet sea,
letting a cats- paw darken the water face
to conceal his coming. Pouring weed,
crusted with shell and salt,
he had stood in the shallows counting his seals,
until I would crept to his side and caught his hand.
His beard flared into mane. He showed his teeth.
My fingers scrabbled in coarse tawny hair,
on scales, in black fur.
He roared, hissed, snarled,
his eyes hot amber, jet and baleful green.
He fountained into a tree and fell as a broken wave
then sighed in my dripping arms
and promised out of his infinite fabled wisdom
to answer my pesky riddles of chance and change.
Yet as we lay in the flood of afternoon,
every moment together leaching away,
the great map re-shaping as he stirred,
no question came. I only watched
the glint of his streaming girdle dull and die
and the stain spread on the towel
like dark blood.
At the sunset he smiled and ambled back to the sea.
The sun blinked its yellow eye.
Sand hissed in the dusk across the beach.
In his sliding torrents of seals
Proteus loomed for an instant like an oak..
His silence, his blue smile flowed
with our lions-gold hours to sleek night,
the moment bled away to father forth
new serpents, trees and tides
and all the oracular shapes of uncharted love.
by Margaret Scott, Australian Poet