By | 1 February 2022

Three rivers run
in my blood, where my mother takes
me home, where mud lives between toes, and rain
is a creature that transforms before my eyes, into river water
falling from rocks into my blood, stepping
carefully along Country, breaking
it gently as it does.

Here where I river-float
with my ancestor brother. I make ripples
he doesn’t. We’re laughing at Dad, tellin again
how Billabong comes from a Wiradjuri word. Old man crow
is eyein us from the banks. We know it’s
Grandfather tellin us youngfullas
“Respect your Elders.”

This River is old
like Earth’s granite bones
endorheic and slowing, for marsh lovers
reed weavers, for migratory mob. This River flows
old magic backwards from sea, makes saltwater
spirits in freshwater

This river
is swollen with matriarchy
she’s boiling, flooded and cold
she jumps dams, eats earth with insatiable hunger, dumps fish
on front lawns, puts a couch in the tree
tells the kids “Get in
here NOW!”

This river
inhales and exhales
with the tides, she is connected to the rhythm
of all things, pulled and pushed by the gravity of dark matter
she flows where she wants, grows where she wants
and menstruates mud
along coastline.

River’s name is
changed from the place where
Brolgas played
to the name of a man who once
owned a company, a company that changes the shape
of the river, bares Country of bush
makes it barren
and used.

This English language
is full of polite words for things
that are violent. Ownership. Colonisation.
Non-consensual. Stolen. Dredging. Damming. Irrigation.
Mining. Aqueduct. Rape. River sleeps this year.
Sleeps deep. Where river?
Here river.

My river, my river
my river is a finger of universe
pointing, is spring-fed, is snowmelt
is rain-filled, is flesh warmed on bones, is Country
knowing, flowing, flooding, my river
my body, your river, our body
soon may be gone.

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