Leeches

by


You’re not supposed to swim here.

We do –

or wallow, really – out of the violent heat.

Mud, two feet deep, floats in a moving layer

(that we avoid)

at the bottom.

Touch it and legs, trunk and then everything below the surface is swamped

in a miasma –

a swirling touch smell

a burp of foetid slime.

 

So we float, suspended above the suspension

or dog paddle awkwardly

(freestyle scoops mud right into outstretched hands

filling fingernails with green-black sludge).

 

Sometimes we hang, fingertips white, off the wooden drop bars,

grainy and algal,

and lie horizontal on the surface, listening to the thundering water fall

through the gap between the slabs

and think about the impermissible – dropping over the drop

and under the bridge with the flow

and out the other side.

 

Clumps of green rushes line the bank, holding earth

even where the bank is undercut and floating away

or settling into the sediment.

Sometimes we watch for tiger snakes snaking from their shelter

but what could we do anyway?

 

In the turbid suspension leeches blindly hunt

Invisible, fuscous, prone in the water;

Sanguivorous, they latch onto our kicking legs.

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