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Friday, August 16, 2019


by Judith Steele

“The Murray-Darling river system managed by NSW [New South Wales, Australia] . . . is ‘an ecosystem in crisis’ which is on a path to collapse and urgent reforms are needed to save it, a review has warned.” —The Guardian, July 23, 2019. Photo: Exposed water height markers on the Darling River reveal the depth of the crisis at Wilcannia. Credit: John Janson-Moore in The Conversation.

In my small flat
I hear daily rhythms
of neighbours’ water
as they hear mine.
Our toilets flush torrents,
our showers are waterfalls.
Washing machines gurgle
while kettles whistle.

Water washes things away
in the morning cleansings.
In swimming pools and seas
gives health and relaxation.

In floods and tsunamis
brings death and desolation.
Luckier countries
send neighbourly help.

But if there is no water?
If you live near a river that’s dried
because someone upstream
has diverted it to profit?
Even in a lucky country, it seems
nothing neighbourly remains
between up and down stream.

All over this nation
the pattern repeated
the up and the down,
their distance increasing.

Where are the neighbours?
What can be done
to wash this away?

Judith Steele lives in South Australia Her poetry or prose has most recently been published in the print journal Gobshite Quarterly (Portland OR); and on the website Nine Muses