The Climate

Jennifer Mackenzie

 

an epoch in decline

kings will come and go

disorder and war will take turns in pursuing you

men will die on the battlefield

women will be abducted

small states will spring up

a fragmentary existence

will be theirs

and yours

 

rivers dry up

you will look back at

gleaming terraces once

flourishing with rice

& say

how did this happen?

how did this come about?

 

if ties are a one-way street

& just ties

then ties are slavery

dim-witted and foolish

we trusted you

now the horses are at the border

forest dogs howl

 

now we can only hear coming

a rushing river of mud

 

we are too far from the coast

the ocean is on fire

we cannot see it

we are too far away

 

 

*based on episodes from Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Arus Balik, a novel set in sixteenth century Java

 

 

Jennifer Mackenzie is a poet and reviewer, focusing on writing from and about the Asian region. Her most recent publication is Borobudur and Other Poems (Lontar, Jakarta 2012), and she has presented her work at a number of conferences and festivals, including the Ubud, Irrawaddy and Makassar festivals. In 2016 she held a residency at Seoul Artspace_Yeonhui, and is currently working on a new Indonesia-focused project, Navigable Ink, as well as a collection of essays, Writing the Continent.

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