The well

just try and stop a mind rolling back
from cooked fish
and a clear horizon—fervor’s up
along the pier, just quick food
and all these bodies
on hot bones
in bitter wind

urban dykes befriend their scraps
naming loudly as they go:
a rib in ‘Sheer Ivory’
a rib in ‘Sudden Spike’
fish spirit’s
cosmetic insignia
city sky tonight

bones fling out to silted Narrm
to silver Port Phillip Bay
my dykes feed
translucent crabs
they breed madly
now it is May

Old Country discourse is further adrift
the Bass Strait well harks back—
muka nipakawa
a well of ocean waves
and bones not yet with grave

oh, my island
and its silent rejections
my island and its returns
like the great white
that follows a too hot seal
I am “going out and coming back”

all nipakawa to the island
are generative
not fully formed

each view framed
by muka’s seeing shore:
a healthy snake made of mist
a mountain at the sea
a shell that waits in needled grass
here they are living the classics

I recall weeks of bed depression
hiding under blankets
reading the debates:
whole PhDs written by Brits
on whether we ate fish!

so well studied and so well told
it takes art and isolation to stay here
I feel bad for my partner
with no utopia there is just nostalgia
but there is always some fish leftover
it is always on my behalf


Read the rest of Poetry in Lockdown, edited by Toby Fitch and Melody Paloma

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Neika Lehman

Neika Lehman is a Trawlwoolway writer and artist living in Narrm since 2014.

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