The always and never returning

Kristen Lang

I’m in a crowd, whipped awake by the weather, 
wind spreading shards of splintered light, the thin rain 
billowing. A woman speaks:  all i, she says,
             
              all   i   feeding in the air of this place
                    all leaf and wing  all
                            bone      becoming rock
                and soil      lizard feet
                                         wattle seed 

There’s a murmur.  all  here, she says,

           not land       we RETURN to
                 HERE  is soil      HERE   are roots    veins  
          and ribs     storm clouds      in our palms
    HERE     sea lions    growling frogs     we’re not
         ourselves         ourselves   reaching out    but all
     i     damselfly    sturgeon and lemur     dunnart
               and forest spores    this    yellow bird 
         this  biting ant     arm suckers    flower buds  

She stands on ground she has jack-hammered 
from its path. Daylight on the hidden soil. The centre 
of the city. Peeled. To remind us. Open. To where we are. 
Rain pouring down.   all  i, she says

                all   i   heart     and ocean bed  
        bark    in the tendons    of our hands   sky
          in our tongues    all
                                                 i  

The crowd of us. Pieces of each other in the hours
we’ve cast wide. In the cloud-river’s fall, how it rips
through forests felled, cramming under the city.  Frog
she explains,     koala  fish     all

                   breathless    did we know?

In our flesh   seed-and-rot   and-rippled-air   the space
she’s exposed      rain    and-sea-and-river    bone-soil     
mountain-stone           (star)dust    in our mouths.

Kristen Lang’s Earth Dwellers was published this year by Giramondo. She lives in north-west Tasmania and is working on ways to use poetry as a cultural response to the Anthropocene. Kristen’s SkinNotes (Walleah Press) and The Weight of Light (Five Islands Press) were published in 2017.

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