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ISSUE 1 | Lick | John Kinsella

The bobtail is licking the algal delta

on the curve of the great rain water tank

in extreme heat. It is writing an autobiography

of evaporation and potentiate,

a memory of brumation that had it wake in winter

and champ its jaws for moisture, aware

that it was tasting its own tail

before falling back into a deepish sleep.

And now its blue tongue licks

a shape to match the chevron of vertical

estuary, downward astronomy of green,

frustrated by the limits of a dry vocabulary,

aware of onlookers as a world of predators

dictates where the past is rewritten

to make a new paradigm, this rejection

of anything but basic technology —

the capturing and harbouring of water,

the holding back a flood whose potency

lessens by the day — hot day after hot day —

heatwave — licking slow as a dangerous

wind rounds on the tank and its machinery,

and the writer makes bone of all it eviscerates.

Licking salt from the wound, telling it as it is,

trying to speak beyond the self, rehydrate.

John Kinsella's most recent poetry books include On the Outskirts (UQP, 2017) and False Claims of Colonial Thieves (with Charmaine Papertalk Green; Magabala, 2018). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, Western Australia.

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