Inland Sea

Brenda Saunders


Clay pans shrink to pools

in the trail of a wet season

hold a microcosmos

teeming with life


Red finned gobies

flash a miniature flame

though tiny succulents


Carnivores varied as coral

wave vivid flowers

trick insects

to their water-garden


Under a shrinking puddle

snails with no shell

dig in for the long hot spell




Termite mounds signpost

a desert soak after rain

Green shoots on cumbungi

a magic lure for butterflies


Banded finches, zit, flit

in button grass, bring sound

and action to the silent pond


Dragon flies, water striders

hover, buzz the fetid air

with new life as the system

gives way to wild extremes


Low rainfall, high winds

bare earth eroding

every gully under the sun




Stored a million years ago

water from the inland sea

flows in ancient channels



Rises in sacred ‘gnammas’

hidden rock mounds

keeping the desert alive


Farmers running cattle

bore into the basin

compete with the micro life

on a land with no water


Wild creatures struggle

to hold on, losing the fight

through every failing season



Brenda Saunders is a Wiradjuri writer and artist, living in Sydney. She has written three collections of poetry and her work has appeared in major anthologies and journals including Southerly, Quadrant, Australian Poetry Journal, Overland and Best Australian Poems 2013 and 2015 (Black Inc). Brenda is a mentor for the Emerging Indigenous Writers program ‘Black Cockatoo’ at

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