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At the Wingecarribee River

There are clues in its double existence, this river
and its greenish banks subsiding quietly
This morning a bit of tea-tree was writing the kayak upturned
on the darkened water, and the reeds and grasses
were drawn along the slicky turf, dragging; it felt like the end
of a story I tell you  What is this new season?
It’s mid August and already the wind is tearing clumps
of wattle, setting it in heaps               I have walked this track a year
when dreams were clearly something tender and the beginning of summer
called Come here like a tropical bird       I saw the fragile light
move the casuarina shadow toward the ledge
on the opposite shore         A variety
of dogs that seemed to want to roll with the current
like so many logs           And then winter arriving late, as though
a forgetful man might excuse himself
by hurling himself at the hosts, being helpful           The rain
smattering the trees, hail in droves
handfuls of ice thrown onto iron rooves
onto cars, onto hills           I’d wake, dress, climb
a slope where potholes were ice frozen with twigs, fur, bones
And at night the moon went snowy           Then the next month, the warm air
again sailed through the branches, and we asked
Already?           The cold had not yet left our different condition
Cracks appeared           I saw a moorhen swimming the thin brown stream
with seven chicks, then four, then none; we didn’t know
if it was a fox or those three nights when there was a sudden frost          
See, you say, all settled forms are coming apart           And I think, the land
repeats our gestures           The currawong’s nest           I saw
it fall           Sometimes I just want to hold things together
When I look at the large boulder on the bend I want to wrap
my arms around it           When I see the stand of blackbutts dancing
there is a restlessness, like the pages of a book
left out in a windswept yard

Maureen O’Shaughnessy holds a Masters of Creative Writing from UTS, completed in 2012. Previous work has been published in Best Australian Essays, Island, Blue Dog, Wet Ink, Best Music Writing under the Australian Sun, Australian Poetry Journal, Hide Your Fires, Rock Country, Artsrush and Swamp. Poems have been short-listed for several poetry prizes, among them the Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize and the Blake Poetry Prize: her poem, 'Thursday, July 15' was awarded the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize (2010). Her first novel, Lakeland, (Ginninderra Press) a hybrid of verse and prose, was published in 2015.