Mangroves, or a treatise on ecological inheritance

Gavin Yuan Gao

 

Faceless, of one mind, we have come

to know the depth of our own blood—

 

not the luxurious blue of sirens nor

the lightning green of pond lilies, but brackish

 

as the spitting sea that will outlive us—ringing

the ruthless shadows as desire rings the flesh

 

of the earth. The heart is a long ladder, a mirrored

& sleeved thing. Our tongues have relished

 

the sweetness of this year’s magnificence, our faith

lush & razor-edged. Out of the clear calm,

 

a shock of roots—hands of a virtuoso climb

& astonish. Here, in the north, our beauty

 

besieges winter. Men tread the trees’ memory

brazenly as tyrants do, not knowing the woodland

 

is our birthright, where the sun is all mouths

& the river writes her elegy on our limbs

 

tirelessly with her ink of light. Watch us toss

& lurch as a leafy coliseum under the sky’s

 

metallic sheen, each honest self burrowing deep,

staking a claim on what is ours to inherit.

 

 

Gavin Yuan Gao is a Brisbane-based poet and translator. His writing was highly commended in the 2018 SLQ Young Writers Award and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Journal, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Tundish Review, and elsewhere.

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