THE RIVER



Eventually even the alluvial gravel of every skein of river
turns the dark wine bottle green of silver beet the texture
of fleecy mucus, snot really, and even the photographs
make you reflexively wrinkle your nose in abject disgust.

‘Bloom’ seems entirely the wrong word for something so
putrid. The riverbed is a sickbed, is a deathbed. Bilious
succubus sucking the oxygen life-force out of the waterway,
dulling the edge of the broad sword’s once sharp blade.

The tangled roots of the willows trawling their hemlines
seem the ribs of a plague corpse left in this sewer ditch,
adorned with shreds of rag the colour of bile and absinthe,
septic, draining the spleen of an upriver neighbour’s

wash off of nitrates and phosphates, silage, or else diverted
to feed Mammon’s insatiable taste for butter milkshakes –
Midas’ touch turns all to pastureland, top it all off with a
garnish of herbicides, pesticides – Slough of Despond –

for some farmer this is roulette, a lottery gamble, “we have to
put food on the table and send the children to school,” though
what else may eat, what lessons they may learn seems an
ironic impasse. For the stilts, for the godwits it’s death and

even Ol’ Papa Satan the eel can’t live in this green Hell.

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