Because the River Freezes

Madeleine Dale

 

Because the river freezes over in winter, we have done what we must –

untagged specimens of an archival regime, girls in plaits not meant

to survive past their purpose. Our whetstone hands, our illuminated

soft tissues – blue dye and trace, a stomach of petrochemical ache. Who

could fault the gannet for eating its own weight in discarded spoons and

closed zip-ties, for leaving a perfect plastic self on the tide line? Tell me

again how my circulatory system is in freefall, the choke points of ankle

and elbow, the notch above my hip made without purpose; a planned

obsolescence, a replaceable body, head of nylon hair. Who could blame

the kestrel for killing its keeper, for starving in the hood and jesses?

Sparrow-hunters, we have done what we must to live past our passage-

prime; too old to be taught, too female for study. Because the river freezes

in winter, I am walking bank to bank, my hair in bands down my back. I

am notching an axe into the carotid, and where you can’t see me, I drink.

 

 

Madeleine Dale is a Brisbane poet. She holds a First Class Honours degree and University Medal in Creative Writing, and is currently completing an MPhil focusing on ecopoetics at the University of Queensland. Her work can be found in Wildness, Cordite, Voiceworks, and Meanjin, among others.

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