Skip to content
Back to issue
From: Vol.10 N.01 – The Transformative Now

We are all river

by Helga Jermy

When you strike water / you strike your own face”
‘The Rope’ from Vicki Raymond’s Franklin River suite

   6.30am: I wake debating with myself 
           about the eco changes of rivers. 
Somnolence of quiet flow at the curve 
               where I meditate versus 
                                      the rush of dam flow 
                            for our power needs. 
           Here is the captured flow 
                         in my tap for morning coffee, 
            the shower heads warm therapy.

The Forth flows from the Pelion, 
             over seven dams, under bridges 
                     of steel 
                          and wood, over limestone, 
              around my toes, past platypus burrow, 
                            along grass verges, 
          around trout, over litter 
              and cattle corpse, by power stations, 
                                         into puddles, 
              into the mouths of small creatures, 
                           past village parks, under fog 
                                     and dew, over 
                           round white pebbles, 
                                    by barely sealed roads, 
                           through sewerage pipes, 
                       into a wide sandy bay.       
                                                    Quick, quick, slow, 
                                         a pluck on violin strings. 
                The river is looking confused at the 
                        U-turn, escaping into clay banks 
                                  or eddying about in circles driving 
                                                               the fish crazy in its dance.    
                                  Will we drink that stir of crazy 
             when it meets our dinner plate as salmon?

      We are all river, 
             the damp within us, 
                    the 60% wetness we drank
                              in bucket loads or stole 
                       from the moist sky 
                                   before it could reach another flow.

               I can feel fish scales in my skin,
                     toxins in my blood. 
                                 When I melt, I am water, 
                  womb, snow milk, sun stream—
                             a steamy down drift, a polished bone. 
Published: June 2023
Helga Jermy

is an English/Estonian poet, now living on Tasmania’s northwest coast. Poems have been widely published and shortlisted/longlisted in major national and international poetry competitions including the Overland Judith Wright prize, Bridport prize and UK National Poetry prize. Recent books, Firebird Baltic Blue and Little Bones in Red Clay, are available from Ginninderra Press. More of her poetry can be found at

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.