Venie Environmental Poetry Prize

A Heart Like This by Kristen Lang

River we’re on – so much upstream, so much drag-pull-heave, water still

upland, all cow and cow feed, almond trees, cotton and rice seeds, all

you and me, each day: the eat, the clothes, the machines, none

getting down now to the river we’re on. We eats up the river, we say,

we is dust now,    wind stepping,   dry   ghost mother, like

pumice stone, the juice gone from the toes and the calves, from the

collar bones,    and look, the heart        pushing its gasp

across the horizon.

We think of the woman they found, Lake Mungo, the woman

swallowed into stone. That’s what we’ll be. Some late-

discovered proof of how the dry, once-green slime on the river bed

is not for drinking, not for fish, not for cockatoos, not for dingo

nor kangaroos… We’re not, we say, we’re not    here now,   not

anything, skin    floating away,       without the river.


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