In which the Derwent River turns out to be haunted


When looking for traces of yourself in landscape,
go to where the water comes in diesel slick
and meets the city, linger at the dock under a grey sky,
watch the morning cruise boats loading their cargoes

of champagne, oysters and the middle class,
see the pewter clouds above, rolling off the shoulder
of Mt Wellington, shrugged off like some trivial thought,
and the child sunk somewhere high in the boughs

of your family tree will come to mind,
a ghost conjured by your own, as a bundle
of still grief wrapped in linen, cast in a shroud
weighted with shot, and buried at sea,

imagine a mother’s loss as a suddenly softened belly,
the promise of a new life distant yet in lands still warred for,
and of another child born from the same womb on the same voyage
who would live, blood still running a loose thread in your veins,

wonder what songs were sung as the bundle was cast to water,
how quickly a body sinks, how eulogies are just long iterations of
one question and how quickly a story can bleed out white, 
decide then to remember more clearly and start writing a poem,

under light breaking at last across the Derwent,
the gulls above wheeling and knifing finally east,
the tour boats backing off the dock,
the slow shapes in the water moving out at last.

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