On the Shoalhaven

By | 1 May 2020

Across the lacquered varnish
of the river, rain comes dimpling
the surface with a sibilant hiss
like the sound of fat sizzling.

Old boulders have come down
hill to examine their own unshaven
reflections in the mirror, come down
from the places they left a millennium

ago, a moment in the ongoing stillness
of boulders. Other rocks have also
escaped their portraits. In contrast
the fleeting water follows

its memory embedded in the river.
The life of shifting sand,
submerged tree trunks which never
stay still for long, these turn and

lean to the current’s bidding, all
with a singular purpose. This far
upstream where salt water stalls
and dilutes itself with air,

small whirlpools play about
the snags beneath. The broken
illusion of tranquility merging to the right
like a long, sweeping brush stroke

gliding to its vanishing point
where rare stuttering frogs read the news
to each other, and the water’s faint
gossip around the bend continues

on beneath a distant bridge. Soon it will
dissolve with time, nudging downstream
to the coast. Too late for the speed
boats who, tomorrow, will return

and cross the river Styx like a rip
down the centre of the canvas, stitched
up with mud and melting spit
giving form to a great amnesia.

The ripples will soon subside,
the boulders quietly exhale
as the river accepts the inward tide
of a world reverting to scale.

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