Madame Susa plays her necklace, glissando with
a black-painted finger nail. ‘Each pearl is a victory
over death, over life. I wear their spirits proudly’
she sings. Naked Indonesian boys, noses pegged
with clips of turtle shell, ears plugged with buds
of gummed cotton, have crushed their ribbon
bodies a hundred feet into the widest oceans,
past swerving sharks and razor coral, to fetch
her favourite strains of nacre.
Now on her bed of rippling golden satin, Susa
denounces Mikimoto’s patented culture:
for where’s the joy in such?
She kicks in my shadow as I thumb fat pearls
from necklace and earring, clicking them off
into her mollusc mouth as her eyes succumb to
deep water blackout.