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From: Vol.10 N.01 – The Transformative Now

On Danggu 

by Nandi Chinna
The Elders said I should talk to the river,
so I sit on the muddy bank and feel foolish,
tongue-tied, what should I say to this ancient being?

I love you I mutter in blunt English and feel embarrassed,
until I begin to comprehend that I need to be quiet,
to leave my hat, my clothes and shoes
discarded on the edge and slip
into warm water, brown as clay

sink beneath the surface into a myriad 
of voices speaking in stone
speaking in lime, in sediment, in fish scales,
in rain coming down from other countries.

That it isn’t so much about what I say
but what I can hear and see
my self, shrunk to a pinpoint beneath time
beneath the walls of the sky
enveloped in something huge
something so old but continually new.

A sea eagle swoops, talons extended,
grasps the river surface and pulls out silver.
A cormorant drops full-bodied 
like fruit from a tree swallowed 
by the river’s arcane depths.

Inside the reef-caves smell of decades and decay. 
A tiny coin-sized turtle turns to meet my gaze,
our eyes held in light suspension

I drift beneath white stone 
rippled by antediluvian oceans,
the huge narrative of myself 
enfolded inside the river’s skin
reduced to this one dumbstruck moment.
Published: June 2023
Nandi Chinna

lives and works on Bunuba lands in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Her poetry collection The Future Keepers was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2020 and was highly commended in the Victorian Premiers Prize 2019. Nandi was awarded the 2021 Western Australian Premiers Writing Fellowship.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.