The River

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Away from the root-tangled bank
I rowed and drifted like a prisoner
on parole, the sluggish river woven
to a murk of weeds, enough to twist
around a swimmer’s legs. It was
said you would drown in seconds.
Egrets and cormorants trod, or glopped
through the waters. The sun, like a
wedge-tail in a nest of branches.

And there closer to the bank, cows
poked their faces through the bush
like women caught undressing; or leaned
and drank their own reflections.
Tortoises clambered through the surface
covered in a thick green slime
their long necks green phalluses
reaching to the sun.

There, old white bones, vertebrae
of scattered spines, a dark loam
clotted in a pelvis, shot with grass.
All became the current, pure sound,
pure image, a drift into silence.

Later, I rowed back, hauled the boat
up in the odd failing light
of the afternoon.

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