Nobody told Marni that she couldn't walk from the church straight into the sea. Perhaps they assumed she knew, but more likely her faraway face frightened them into their collars which rose every time they passed her pew and again by the gate. And so she walked from God's house into Neptune's halls and the surf drenched her Sunday best as she twirled her way home.
Nobody told Marni that she shouldn't love a woman. Perhaps they thought it wasn't their business, but more likely they couldn't find an opening line that didn't daunt them and Marni never spoke first. And so in love as she was, no-one dared question how or who when Marni's belly swelled and her cries circled a harvest moon and came back higher-pitched.
Nobody told Marni that you can't stand by the school gate in bare feet. Nobody told Marni that she was looking thin when she wandered into town with the sun shining from her shaven scalp. Even when they all realised, nobody told Marni that she was going to die.
Perhaps they assumed she knew, but more likely they didn't want a dying woman looking into any eye too grateful for its own life. Too glad that this was not their body punctured under lights that made every laugh seem stretched and every vein look like ink on wet paper. Too relieved that they were different.
And so without being told, Marni stood up, took two hands, and like a bowsprit towed them to the barefoot beach where the eastern light met her eyes and raised a sea mist to soothe her skin.
There, in the silence between her lover and child and with the ocean kissing her thighs,
Marni heard the promises and smiled