Rivers

Dani Netherclift

Emptied, those beds sketch 
blood maps, blotting
red borders

across the skin of Countries–
the vast organ naked
beneath absence

snaking veins bear
plangent mysteries
                 memories
 of passing import

silvered fish and stories,  
grasses, those who have died
by drowning
or thirst

wisdoms we could not fathom 
old names cast aside,
ways that might have
could still    maybe save 

our skins
water         ways forward 
and back   roads taken
trust and mistrust, all that hubris

lies, poison, theft      there’s nothing
but the gouge
of scar tissue 

ghost-flows writhing
towards dry 
that blank of page only bone 

and dirge left to sing
in witness to
what was taken

what lost, 
the dried blood   
of leavings.

Dani Netherclift lives surrounded by mountains in country Victoria. She was the winner of the 2020 AAWP/The Slow Canoe Creative Nonfiction Prize and has recently been published in Stilts Journal, Meniscus, Rabbit, and Recent Work Press’s anthology What We Carry.

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