Water Works

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Forty-some paces into the Gulf
you’ll find the work of forty-odd years:
rings of rock that once cased cottage wells
where dwellers drew fresh water, sunk now
in the salt swell and swum around
by fishes. We get smaller year by
year. The breaks we build to brake our shrinkage—
riprap and seawalls, baskets of stone—
only make things worse: they make the patient
ocean more resourceful. Gone Panmure
Island’s marram-anchored dunes. Gone the wharves
of Basin Head. Gone the elephant-
shaped rock whose feet we shod in concrete
to keep him for the tourists.

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