Black plastic billows in the breeze,
a hungry ghost ravelling string fingers around
mangrove twigs and tendrils that reach, beseechingly, across the water.
Two weeks ago this river was a raging torrent
sweeping all before it through the suburbs.
Today she is serene and so I paddle, watchfully, upon her shine,
wary of the jolt of submerged trees or
timber limbs grabbing my board and pitching me headlong into mud.
There is the grey heron with its guttural call –
all elegance until it honks across the morning.
There is the conference of currawongs
convening somewhere in the casuarinas that fringe the banks.
Such a concert of calls I wonder what they’re on about,
maybe they speak with urgency of Country’s pain,
adding their voices to the cacophony of
drought, fire, flood and white heat that herald
things are already on the move to tip the balance for good.
Or bad. Or worse.
Half a world away Putin tilts Europe towards war and once again
we watch aghast, powerless.
In the midst of terror, horror, suffering and the rigours of survivor guilt
there is still for us – unharmed right now – a chance to cultivate deep intimacy with this place.
The red beacon on the hill at night is like a campfire calling us home.
The eucalypt forest spreading its fingers through these suburbs,
catches the southerlies and autumn stars in twinkling nights.
We build food forests in the front yard and gratefully harvest the
first baby squash and zuchs, homegrown leafy greens filling our lunch boxes and bellies.
And there is the big rainbow bed where we love and laugh and spoon and sleep.
I work in the local supermarket now to make ends and beginnings meet.
Each person who comes through receives a smile, a warm greeting, a word of connection
because this too is place and intimacy and tenderness in action.
Who knows what burdens we each carry and
I resolve to live each moment, person by person, life by life with
deep kindness, mindful of all our losses.
I paddle my board to the beseeching, flood-wrapped mangrove tree.
Carefully I hold her limbs and unravel, shred by shred,
black plastic hungry ghost.
Speaking endearments of release,
we delicately part – plastic, tree, me,
and I ferry folds of darkness back to shore
gently placing it in the council bin with a bow.
Sunlight skitters downstream.